Thursday, October 07, 2010

Episode IV: What we know, what we don't know

Let's do a little thought experiment.  Set the Wayback Machine for late 1979.  A New Hope is the only Star Wars film.  That's our primary source for today's exercise.

Secondary sources can include the first 30 issues or so of the Marvel comic, the Holiday Special, up to five novels (the Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Splinter of a Mind's Eye, Han Solo at Star's End, Han Solo's Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy), the various toys available, The Story of Star Wars record, children's books adaptaions and the first four plotlines of the Russ Manning newspaper strips.

Given this material, what do we know about the Galaxy Far, Far Away back then that no longer holds true under present concepts of Star Wars canon?  What is as-yet (for '79) undefined?  What can we extrapolate?  Here are a few initial thoughts:

  • Luke, Leia and Vader are not related.  Luke's father was a fellow named Tan Skywalker (per the first Sunday Russ Manning strip, IIRC).  Tan used to form a chummy adventuring trio with his buddies Darth and Obi-Wan.  Leia is a perfectly normal space princess from Alderann whose lineage is not in dispute.  The big guy in the black helmet?  It says Vader, Darth right on his birth certificate.
  • Obi-Wan was an officer in the Clone Wars, leading Alderaanian forces.  The Clone Wars are presumably more than one war against some clones.  Here in the U.S. no one refers to the conflict in Viet Nam as the Poor Bastards Who Couldn't Get A Deferrment War, for chrissake.  Anybody who can clone an army can presumably clone more than one person, so as a kid I assumed that the masterminds behind the clone forces (who were themselves undoubtedly clones) also had access to dopplegangers.  Imagine young Obi-Wan fighting five clone Obi-Wans while a sixth clone is busy tricking the good guys via simple impersonation.
  • Per the original novel the Emperor is a pathetic puppet figure, not a cackling Sith overlord.  Real power rests with soulless Imperial bureaucrats like Grand Moff Tarkin.
  • Speaking of Tarkin, he's a pretty arrogant guy.  He assumed incorrectly that the Death Star was invulnerable.  He also assumed that Vader was the last Jedi.  How many more Jedi are lurking on the fringes of galactic society?  Maybe after his brush with his old master Vader ends up spending a lot of time chasing down many different Jedi instead of Luke specifically.  Vader as Witchfinder General. 
  • There's no reason to assume that the Jedi order was outlawed or disbanded in Kenobi's lifetime.  Maybe the order was suppressed generations ago and he, Skywalker and Vader were among one of the relic sects keeping the flame alive.  Maybe there is no Jedi Order.  Maybe Jedi Knights are exactly like medieval knights: a warrior class sworn to various lords.  Obi-Wan as a vassal of Leia's father?  Maybe Jedi had a wide range of allegiances, agendas and abilties.  Their martial training and religious devotion to the Force may be the only threads that unify them.
  • Han shot first.


  1. You mind-reading bastard.

    I was just last night thinking what a fun project it would be to go through the first movie (not the supporting stuff, just the first movie) and put down what we do know and what we don't, and consider alternate ways that the "what we don't" could have been filled in.

    Not exactly what you did, but that kind of thing.

    Nice work.

  2. My childhood image of the clone wars was a war that had been artificially extended by cloning on both (or all) sides ... a war that should have burned itself out in a few years, but that dragged on for generations, instead.

    So, there wasn't a good-guy clone army and there wasn't a bad-guy clone army. There wasn't even, specifically, a clone army on any side at all ... just a war extended by filling the ranks with clones wherever needed to keep the meat-grinder grinding.

  3. They should have let you make the rest of the movies.

    Just sayin'.

  4. I also got the impression the Jedi had mostly died out long ago, much more than a generation, or they were very obscure and private, not a massive political entity. The reaction from Han to Obi-Wan strongly points in that direction.

    Jedi were mystic warriors with just a touch of ESP/psychic power, not virtual magicians tossing lightning bolts at each other.

    Beru was Luke's father's sister.

    Luke's mother was probably killed when Vader betrayed Luke's father and Obi-Wan. It is possible she may have been related to Owen Lars, which could explain a lot of his hostility towards Obi-Wan and Luke's dad.

    I always figured the "Clone Wars" were a war AGAINST a clone army. (One of the things I like about the prequels was how they inverted that, made the clones the 'good guys' -- loyal and competent. It wasn't what I'd always imagined, and that made it interesting and good.)

  5. "So, there wasn't a good-guy clone army and there wasn't a bad-guy clone army. There wasn't even, specifically, a clone army on any side at all ... just a war extended by filling the ranks with clones wherever needed to keep the meat-grinder grinding."

    Oh, I like that a lot.

  6. Jabba the Hutt is an alien, but a decidedly humanoid-looking one. He's got a bit of a walrus-hair lip thing going, but, when he confront's Han in the hangar in the comic adaptation of Star Wars, he's not a giant slug.

    I remember reading that adaptation back in '77 and calling shenanigans on GL when he claimed that he always meant to insert a giant slug in the hagar bay scene he included in the special edition of SW.

  7. An excellent idea. Of course, I'd like to extend it to include Empire because it's my favorite of the series. But then again you have these familial details firming up and closing off other options...

  8. "But then again you have these familial details firming up and closing off other options..."

    Yeah, that's why I opted to go pre-Empire.

  9. Is this prep for your hypothetical space based game?

  10. I'm in the camp with "didn't Jedi die out generations back?"

    There's two decades between part three and part four, the way people regard Jedi in IV makes no frigging sense at all if parts I-III were actually part of the back-story for part 4.

    It never crossed my mind the Jedi were the Legion of Superheroes (circa Superboy and the 70's).

  11. Wonderful, wonderful! Keep us posted with further developments plz! =_

  12. A friend of mine and I had a three hour phone conversation several weeks ago going through point-by-point and trying to re-imagine the prequels based only what we are told in the original trilogy. There was a lot of interesting stuff we brought up.

    Also, in the novelization of Star Wars it is clearly pointed out that Vader is one of a GROUP of Dark Lords who serve the Empire.

  13. And see, my childhood image of the clone wars, the clones were all some kind of monstrous mutant spawn that the Empire was at war with. And I don't know where exactly I got it from, but I always thought that the Republic had collapsed into Empire generations before and that the Empire was much older than just a couple of decades.

  14. If you go back far enough there is none of this "Episode IV: A New Hope" nonsense -- it was just, STAR WARS!

  15. Maybe you can treat the jedi like the samurai that inspired them. A jedi is a trained warrior who uses the force (and, in fact, the ability to control the force is central to their training), and may serve any number of masters - or wander as a ronin with no master. If Jedi's died out it was because the "mechanization" of the imperial bureaucracy and its soul-sucking schools made the crop of potential candidates too small, and the mechanization of blasters and body armor (churned out in factories) made the skilled Jedi less effective as warriors - too expensive to train, to few in number.

  16. I'm in the camp with "didn't Jedi die out generations back?"

    Put me in this camp too. I think it opens up a lot more possibilities for the setting overall.

  17. Anonymous2:25 PM

    Stormtroopers are very accurate shots when they aren't letting prisoners escape with a tracking device on their ship.


    Tarkin: "The Jedi are extinct. Their fire has gone out of the universe. You, my friend, are all that's left of their religion."

  18. Yeah, Jedi as vanished, legendary order, FTW.

    What people have posted here echo something I've felt for a long time but had trouble articulating. That the first "Star Wars" movie was one kind of universe/story/setting, and something of that was lost with the sequels, no matter how good they were or weren't.

    One reason I love "Star Rovers" is because it seemed to catch that original spirit of the first film.

    The incestuousness (and I'm not talking of the kiss in ESB) of the later films and EU bugs me... you have a galaxy of a million inhabited worlds and ghu knows how many trillions of sentient beings (hell, let's assume Coruscant has the the population density of Manhattan island, and it's an Earth-sized world, and that 75% of the land surface is inhabited, allowing for waste dumps, automated industrial plants, massive waste recycling and reprocessing, huge algae farms, etc. That's a population of 2,992,500,000,000, or nearly three trillion on one planet, and the population density figures are probably on the low side. Sure, it's not typical, but it's a good indication of how BIG the SW universe SHOULD be), and just about everyone ends up knowing or being related to someone from the movie. Why is every Hutt somehow connected to Jabba? Why does the world of the Old Republic, 36000 years before the time of the movies, look virtually identical in technology, fashion, and politics to the current era? Rant, rant, rant.

  19. "Here in the U.S. no one refers to the conflict in Viet Nam as the Poor Bastards Who Couldn't Get A Deferrment War..."

    Oh, that shouldn't make me laugh...but it does, it does!

  20. When I was a kid I thought that the Clone Wars were a series of wars against the same enemy which were so similar that historians didn't bother to distinguish between them individually, hence the name Clone Wars. More like a series of skirmishes than wars really. So it was the wars which were cloned, not the soldiers. Is that wierd?

  21. Not that weird, really. Traveller's background has the Nth Interstellar War, because historians could agree when one war in the series ended and the next one started.

  22. heh, great post and comments.

    Unfortunately I can't remember what I thought the clone wars were about (Aggh! my mind has been poisoned!). But I did want to see the betrayal of Luke's father in the ever rumored pre-history. Oh and I thought Luke and Leia would hook up for sure in the future. The Jedi where a mystery as was the Force (midiclorians??).

    But I do remember being disappointed in Empire when it came out. It was weird and darker and didn't leave me with the open fascination of the original. It started closing the doors. And Yoda the jedi master didn't jive with me either.

    I like when the SW universe was more hinted at and not defined.

  23. Anonymous4:07 PM

    A strange thought that crossed my mind the other night: The original script for SW did not take place "A long time ago..." but rather "In the year 3000". This even made it into some of the earliest promo materials and industry ads for the then-in-production film. As major setting details for big movies go, it was actually changed pretty late in the game.

    Think of how much it would have changed the feel and tone of SW if it did in fact take place in our future: Imagine online fan histories trying to link the SW
    30th century to Star Trek's 23rd, endless discussions about if Han is a decendant of Indiana Jones, Luke referencing Hitler when talking about Vader, etc. I can't quite explain how, but that would have turned the whole tone of the series on it's ear somehow.

  24. I remember playground speculation that Obi-wan was actually a clone: OB-1.

    I seem to remember knowing that Vader got his armor because he fell into a volcano even back then. Was that in the ADF novelization? Or maybe a magazine article?

  25. Obi-Wan actually says what happened to the Jedi right there in the movie:

    Obi-Wan: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.

    Luke's father was a Jedi, as was Darth. We can assume that Luke's dad was either a pupil of or contemporary to Obi-Wan.

  26. Anyone with ANY interest in this topic at all needs to read "The Secret History Of Star Wars". It used to be distributed for free on the net (legally) and I have a copy (from when it was legal), but it's now for sale, with the first 100 pages free. It's scrupulously researched and it's a good aid for sorting out "what I sort of think I remember hearing" from "what actually happened in the movies" -- memory blurs a LOT after thirty years. (I have friends who swear up, down, and sideways that they saw "Episode IV" when SW premiered... nope, it was added when it was re-released into the theatre a year before ESB came out. Likewise, I had STRONG memories of seeing Han talking to a fat, human, Jabba in the movie... and I *did* see such a scene... but not in the theater in 1977, but in "The Making of Star Wars", aired on TV in 1978 or 1979)

    It looks at all sorts of authentic (but now disavowed or forgotten by Lucas) primary sources and shows that Lucas regularly contradicted himself as to what Star Wars was "always" about and what it was "always" supposed to be. Things Lucas has flatly denied he ever said are carefully documented and annotated as to when and where he said them, etc.

  27. Anonymous4:58 PM

    Whenever I get out the old West End Games version of the Star Wars RPG I always make it a point to tell the players it is based on the first movie and set right after it. The problem is players usually can't do what you just did and place their minds there, ignoring what came after.

    I especially like your thoughts on the Jedi being suppressed longer ago, by the way. I just don't like the idea that so much changed so fast over an area as large as the whole galaxy. I admit it's possible, I just don't like it.

  28. "I remember playground speculation that Obi-wan was actually a clone: OB-1."

    Oh, heall yeah. Ben Kenobi was the original and he LOST the duel to OB-2 through OB-6 but OB-1 (the impersonator) later repented and switched sides. After the wars he decided to retire and assumed Ben's identity.

  29. Anonymous5:23 PM

    I'm a long reader, but this is my first comment here...

    I also have the same opinion that Vader is just one of the Dark Lords who are the vassals and protectors of the Empire.

    And to add something new, when Han saw a lightsaber first, he told that these old weapons are useless. I always imagined, that before the Empire everybody used lightsabers in the medieval laserage. The shiny plates on Lord Vader is actually full laserplate against lightsabers. But, as technology advanced everyone chose laser guns instead, excluding some mysterious crazy hermit people and the Dark Lords who use the ancient weapon as a status symbol.

    Oh and most of the Dark Lords are like Vader: they are kept alive artifically, because they are very old. But why? They saw the birth of the Empire, they truly believe in it. Maybe they are the only ones who follow the Law, and can not be corrupted... they keep the Empire together with their fanatism...

    I'm really fond of this blog, thanks Jeff.

  30. Anonymous6:01 PM

    For any who have not seen it, take a look at this link.

    That was a presentation the Kenner toy company made when they wanted to extend the toyline past Return of the Jedi. They introduced a new storyline and villain that are based on the history of the clone wars. Page 9 explains the villain who was instrumental in the clone wars, and has now returned to menace everyone with his clone warriors. I find it pretty evocative and inspiring.

    Not precisely what Jeff was talking about, but still cool.

  31. My childhood image of the clone wars was a war that had been artificially extended by cloning on both (or all) sides ... a war that should have burned itself out in a few years, but that dragged on for generations, instead.

    S. John Ross, if you haven't already seen it, track down an episode of Doctor Who called "The Doctor's Daughter". You may enjoy it.

    Yeah, for me the idea of the Empire rising and falling within Luke's lifetime is too much. It's an ancient and sprawling organisation, at least a century old.

    Yes, Kenobi and Vader were both around at the beginning, but Vader is more machine than man now, and Obi Wan's been in the desert using funky Jedi tantric to live far longer than normal. Not so hard, is it George?

  32. Anonymous6:59 PM

    It seems to me that the Republic's fall and the destruction of the Jedi Knights do not have to have happened at the same time. Sounds like the Jedi were still around during the Empire (who knows for how long?), but then at some point they were seen as a problem, and Vader helped the Emperor wipe them out, kind of like how the Senate was finally disbanded during the events of the first movie, as reported by Tarkin at the officer meeting on the Death Star. The Empire was, little by little, getting rid of all remnants of the Republic, it just took time.

    The Jedi must have been dwindling for quite a while before the movie happened, and Obi-Wan and Anakin would have been some of the last remnants, perhaps living in seclusion, when Vader caught up to them...

    The openness of the original film does make room for a lot of possibilities. And as much as I love Empire Strikes Back, it really does start to close a lot of doors.

  33. I remember thinking that the clone wars might be a “war” of intrigue: clones inserting themselves or being inserted among the influential figures of the worlds. The clone wars then might not just be against the clones, but against the people who believe that the clones are their lawful leaders, representatives, and heroes.

    They might even have lost the clone wars, and that’s why there’s an empire now, but I did have the impression that the clone wars were probably something they won.

  34. Oh, heall yeah. Ben Kenobi was the original and he LOST the duel to OB-2 through OB-6 but OB-1 (the impersonator) later repented and switched sides. After the wars he decided to retire and assumed Ben's identity.

    That's awesome.

  35. Anonymous7:59 PM

    "The Jedi knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire...A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct."

    That, coupled with Luke's age being no more than 20, seems to indicate that the Jedi were wiped-out by the Empire no more than 20 years in the past.

  36. "That, coupled with Luke's age being no more than 20, seems to indicate that the Jedi were wiped-out by the Empire no more than 20 years in the past."

    Unless Luke was conceived after the turn to the dark side and the Final Purge.

  37. I don't have much of a problem with the idea that the Empire fully consolidated itself when Vader betrayed the Jedi, or that this happened only a generation ago. I think the idea of the Jedi as a very well known and politically powerful group being effectively forgotten in that time -- especially when many races live 200+ years. If Lucas had really planned things out as he later claimed, Luke's reaction to being told his father was a Jedi would have been like "You mean the traitors to the Republic?" (It's safe to assume the Imperial propaganda machine ran full-tilt after Order 66).

    I felt the original idea was that the Jedi were Knights Templar, a secret and secretive order perhaps known in whispers, but not a mainstream part of day-to-day politics, mostly free agents going where they wished or where they felt the Force was guiding them.

    (One game I really wanted to run, but players balked because they believed they'd need to read every SW novel there was, despite my saying "Only the movies are canon", would be to have the PCs as new Jedi, just graduated, partying in Coruscant when the Emperor announced that Jedi were now to be hunted down and exterminated. No masters, no Jedi Council, barely any skill, and stuck on the capital of the Empire with 3 trillion+ beings eager to turn them in...)

  38. Anonymous8:24 PM

    I think that there's an odd situation here, because many viewers agree that when Obi-Wan told Luke about the past, it has a feel to it of being much longer ago (maybe just because so many of us were young at the time we first heard it?), yet the logistics of it do indicate it wasn't all that long ago. And if you look at real-world conquerors, coups and so forth, it's very possible for a new government to virtually wipe-out knowledge of the previous one, or to demonize certain groups in the minds of the populace.

  39. Anonymous8:45 PM

    I found it interesting to read the prologue from the original Star Wars novelization. This page has it (scroll down to the bottom):

    So there are entire systems that have declared their opposition to the Emperor. And the various Imperial governors and such use the Imperial forces to further their own schemes and power grabs, claiming it is in the name of the Emperor (but he is just a puppet, as has been mentioned already.)

    And did you catch that the Republic had already gone bad before Palpatine was around? He promised to "restore the remembered glory" of the Republic. I know one could argue that the prequel films depict this too, but doesn't it read differently than that in this prologue, especially given what it says about Palpatine not being in control of his Empire as much as the later films show?

    I'm not trying to say the movies are bad or wrong, but this older view of things would make for a much better Star Wars RPG setting.

  40. I'll second the charge of mind-reading, Jeff - or to paraphrase the Lord of the Sith, "You are a member of the Jedi Order, and a traitor!"

  41. Anonymous10:31 PM

    A couple of neat quotations from Obi-Wan in the novelization.

    On lightsabers, "At one time they were widely used. Still are, in certain galactic quarters."

    On Vader, "Vader used the training I gave him and the force within him for evil, to help the later corrupt Emperors. With the Jedi knights disbanded, disorganized, or dead, there were few to oppose Vader. Today they are all but extinct."

    Vader assisting corrupt Emperors (plural)? And it sounds like the Jedi were scattered pretty well, too, not just totally exterminated. I could easily believe there were more in hiding, as Kenobi was. Maybe they are in those galactic quarters where lightsabers are still used? :)

  42. Anonymous11:57 PM

    Way back in high school (circa late 1980's), I had a schoolyard chum who had a very cool and ahead-of-it's-time theory as to how Vader got all messed up and wound up in the life-support suit: There was no big accident, no near-fatal combat wounds, no lava (which I too can swear I heard _somewhere_ long before the prequels.)... just the Dark Side of the Force, which is so DARK and EVIL that it actually causes those who dared to wield it to _rot alive_.

  43. The "falling into lava" story was given by Lucas very early on, after SW was released and long before ESB; it was published in Starlog or the like.

  44. Anonymous12:32 AM

    "Maybe there is no Jedi Order. Maybe Jedi Knights are exactly like medieval knights: a warrior class sworn to various lords. Obi-Wan as a vassal of Leia's father? Maybe Jedi had a wide range of allegiances, agendas and abilties. Their martial training and religious devotion to the Force may be the only threads that unify them."

    Good stuff.

  45. In my imagination back then the young Darth Vader was a suave, handsome, and charismatic man whose defining characteristic was treachery. Like Obi-wan, the remaining Jedi had hidden themselves away on backwater worlds across the galaxy, and Vader would find them, introduce himself as a fellow Jedi Knight, befriend them, then betray them. He had killed Luke's father by inviting him to a hidden citadel and pretending to offer him and his retainers refuge from the Empire. (All of the Jedi knights had had retainers, of course; it was a sign of Obi-wan's desperate impoverishment that he had none in Star Wars.) At a banquet Vader poisoned Luke's father but only managed to weaken him; the death blow came in a lightsaber duel as swarms of stormtroopers cut down the retainers. Tracking down the last few remaining Jedi, eventually Vader found Obi-wan in his hiding spot on a volcano planet, but Obi-wan discerned his treachery and they fought. Defeated and facing death, Vader jumped into the mouth of a volcano to escape; Obi-wan presumed him dead, then fled to a new hiding spot on Tatooine.

  46. Darth is also clearly Vader's NAME. In the prequels Lucas tries to establish that Darth is a title. Why then does Ben refer to him as "Darth" during their duel? Why would he call this man by his title? The line reading indicates a familiarity between a former master and student rather than some odd addressing of Vader by his title. The novelization cements this further by often referring to him as "Lord Darth Vader." Anyway that's another thing I noticed.

    My speculations about the Jedi based on what folks have observed here and what's mentioned in the film suggest an ancient order of mystical warriors who were already in decline when Vader and the Empire finished them off.

    I do like the idea that they may have served many different leaders as their protectors and that they were united by code and various beliefs. This would indicate something much less bureaucratic than the Jedi we see in the prequels.

  47. All this, so that you could write "Han shot first"? ;-)

    However, this is an interesting idea. For Traveller, there is something similar with the idea of proto-traveller using only the first books. (Not meaning that that would make the Traveller universe into the Star Wars universe.)

    Wasn't it in Supplement 6 that there was stats for Vader?

  48. I wrote about basically this idea in late August but included up through Empire and the comics to that point.

    Guess it's an idea whose time has come.

  49. I like it :)

    and if I might add jedi weapons should be force/plasma sword not "laser" sword ;)

  50. I read the comment about Vader and lava in Starlog, back in the day. Lucas was interviewed by Starlog and made that comment (I think it was an interview by Starlog and not a reprint in that mag from another source).

  51. Anonymous11:17 AM

    I just want to second Lizard's comment about the Secret History of Star Wars. Track down the book, by all means, but the website alone is very informative and truly fascinating for an old school fan of Star Wars.

    If you're wondering what you did/didn't actually see back then, or have vague memories about stuff you half-remember... take a look. It also sheds a big spotlight on what the real intentions for the film and series were back then.

  52. "A young Jedi named Darth Vader"

    Yeah. Not Anakin Skywalker. NAMED Darth Vader.

    Mr. and Mrs. Vader had a kid, and named him Darth.

    As a kid they called him "Darty," of course. Standard childhood nickname for "Darth."

    The other kids on the playground called him "Booger."

  53. @Welleran:

    I have a memory of knowing about Star Wars being 'Episode IV' at the time - at least when the original trilogy was out. I remember wondering what the other three episodes were meant to be, and someone suggesting Star Trek.

    Also I think I read that caling it 'episode IV' and the beginning crawl text was meant to suggest a movie serial, where they'd have a summary for those who might have missed the earlier episodes.

  54. Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster also supports some of what's been suggested here. For example, that there's more than one Dark Lord of the Sith and that the Emperor is weak and controlled by corrupt bureaucrats.

    Ed Green

  55. I'm loving this whole crazy space train of thought! That's not to say that what came later in Empire wasn't great. In fact, it's my favorite after ANH. But they are two different "universes" aren't they.

  56. I always liked the World of Krypton's take on a Clone War (the 1987 miniseries, not the one in 79). People were cloned as a means of providing replacement body parts. An aristocratic mother had cloned herself and activated her clone in secret, and she had the clone date her son. When the news reached the public, there were riots and the protests against cloning escalated to all-out war.

    The aftermath was a scorched and blackened planet, with pockets of life here and there.

    Much, much, more interesting than the current Star Wars storyline. :(

  57. Lizard said...
    The "falling into lava" story was given by Lucas very early on, after SW was released and long before ESB; it was published in Starlog or the like.

    The first I heard of the reason for Darth Vader's armor was the result of him falling into a volcano, was in Traveller's 99 Patrons book. It had Traveller stats for famous sci-fi characters and a brief bio. Darth and Luke were among the list.

  58. The notes about the emperor secluding himself make me think of Japan during the various feudal wars that went on until the Shogunate, especially as described in Shogun by James Clavell. The emperor was very secluded and had very little say as to what actually went on in the country, but at the same time, he could be used to order ritual suicides or otherwise create binding decrees. Surely you could generate a lot of intrigue by the need to work around particular decrees or keep goals hidden to prevent a decree against you until such time as you are able to consolidate your influence enough to effect the outcome through the emperor.

  59. @Skydyr -- I think the reason for the creation of the Corporate Sector, etc, in the early novels, was to give back some of that ability to have local areas which deviated from the Imperial Mandates. An Empire where the Moffs hold most of the power and the sector of Moff One might be very different in tone and law from Moff Two is a much cooler setting for gaming, IMO.

  60. Jedi didn’t wear Tatooine garb. They wore outfits more like Luke’s in Return of the Jedi.

    Vader’s backstory about the volcano was given to people who were hired to play him at appearances around the country.

    My middle school art teacher had a great theory about the Clone Wars. She noted the lack of female characters and that so many of the imperials wore masks. She therefore posited that there had been a shortage of females. One faction (which became the imperials) favored cloning to increase reproduction. Another faction opposed it.

  61. A little outside the subject of the post but I ran across something interesting about Yoda: