Friday, February 20, 2004
SWG: Modified Jedi Progression
If we're going to rethink what Jedi do, we need to spend a little time thinking about who Jedi are. What is it about Jedi that really makes them distinct from everyone else, and how can we incorporate these differences into SWG?
I. GENERAL CONCEPTS
There is a simple and well-known two word sentence that tells you everything you need to know about Jedi: "Power corrupts."
Power is seductive; when you have it, you want more. For some people, power changes from being a means to some end to being an end in and of itself. Instead of using power to achieve a goal, power is used to gain more power. When this happens, the person or institution wielding that power has become corrupt.
What makes this corruption so seductive is that it's always so easy to rationalize the quest for more power. "Well, if it [a dictatorship] works...." "Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son."
Some people are able to resist this temptation. For whatever reason, some people are so constituted as to recognize the importance of limits to individual power, and to voluntarily impose those limits on themselves, even at those times when greater power is most desirable.
Not everyone can be so strong. Sooner or later, everyone succumbs to the whispers... "Take your Jedi weapon and strike me down with all of your hatred." "I wasn't strong enough... but I promise, I won't fail again."
II. JEDI AND POWER
In the world of Star Wars, both these elements of power and choice are always present for a Jedi. Training in the Force confers ever greater power on a person, but with that power comes the responsibility of choice -- not merely of when and how to use the power of the Force, but the more difficult choice of when not to use it.
Those who choose restraint when temptation beckons remain Jedi. Those who yield take their first step down the path to the Dark Side.
Ultimately, being a Jedi is quite simple. The lessons take many forms, and can be painfully hard to learn, but in the end there are only two lessons.
The first and easier lesson is how to use the Force. The second and vastly more difficult lesson is when to use the Force. When you're a Jedi, every situation is an opportunity -- and a challenge -- to learn these two lessons.
Progression through the ranks of the Jedi is based on the student's demonstration of ability and understanding of these two lessons. Much attention is given to learning Force abilities and improving in their use. This obvious manifestation of the Force is what most people see, and what most Jedi novices focus on (since without ability there's nothing to control). But as a Jedi advances, he must begin to show restraint in the use of the Force and demonstrate that he understands why this restraint is necessary.
The Jedi trials are designed to test the Jedi's mastery of these two aspects of the use of the Force. Within each level, a Jedi is expected to learn and demonstrate ability in a defined set of skills. When the learner's teacher feels the student has advanced sufficiently to earn the next rank, a mastery test will be administered in which the student's understanding of when to use the Force is assessed along with proficiency. Students who fail to demonstrate a proper understanding of when and why to limit one's use of power, or who fail key proficiency tests, will not be advanced.
III. JEDI IN STAR WARS GALAXIES
Bearing the above in mind, there are two sets of features that need to be implemented. One is the system of Jedi powers; this is already in the game and looks OK, so no need to change this. The other necessary feature is the set of trials designed to test the student's understanding of the proper use of Jedi powers.
The first item -- Force powers -- has already been implemented. But when to actually use these powers should also be considered when generating answers to the list of developer questions about Jedi.
NPCs players might interact with throughout the quest
A Jedi goes wherever she's needed in the service of freedom. (Or, in the case of Dark Jedi, in the service of order through force.) In other words, there's no such thing as a "typical" Jedi interaction. Jedi must speak and work with people from all walks of life, from the high to the low, from warriors to scholars to crafters to entertainers, from kings to farmers and all points in between -- whatever it takes to accomplish their mission.
Progression quests and trial ideas
Typically a Jedi trial is a requirement for the student to confront some menace. In most cases this menace should take some external form that mirrors the student's greatest internal temptation. This will test the student's readiness to responsibly use the greater powers granted at the next level of mastery.
Within SWG, some of a player's typical behaviors should be recorded, then analyzed when a trial is needed. If a player has a habit of attacking anything and everything with his lightsaber no matter what his surroundings, the quest might be to locate and eliminate a monster threatening some villagers... except that the "monster" is actually just the manifested dreams of one of the village's children, and destroying the monster by whipping out one's lightsaber will cause the student to fail the test. (The correct answer would be to use Force Awareness to locate the true source of the disturbance, then use the appropriate non-combat Force power to solve the real problem.)
Similarly, a player whose typical reaction is to run from perceived danger might be required to risk death by actually battling a real monster. A player whose dedication to the Light side is to be tested should be required to refrain from use of the Force rescue friends or even to save her own life; a Dark side player would fail a test by showing mercy to a weaker opponent.
In all cases the test of Force understanding will take the form most likely to require the student to act against his nature (as determined by monitoring what the player typically does). Only when the student can control himself can he be trusted to control his use of the power of the Force.
What skills a Jedi might use on these quests
The usual lot: Force Awareness, Force Push, Force Pull, Force Speed, Force Heal, Force Reflection, Force Grip, Force Absorb, and Force Lightning are the ones that come to mind.
Quests for different profession types, for instance, social quests, explorer quests, combat quests, etc.
I don't think there should be different quests based on a player's other professions. Different types of quests for different types of other players are fine, but they should all be thought of and structured to be Jedi quests.
To paraphrase West Side Story: "When you're a Jedi, you're a Jedi all the way."
Jedi Titles earned through the quests from Force Sensitivity to Jedi master
Guardian, Padawan, Sentinel, Scholar, Consular, Knight, Master, Savant, Dispatch, all with "Jedi" or "Force" stuck in front. In particular I'd like to see four separate lines (disciplines?) through the Jedi skills -- maybe Offensive (Grip, Lightning), Defensive (Reflection, Absorb), Manipulation (Push, Pull, Speed), and Sensitivity (Awareness, Healing). Each discipline would have its own trainee titles for each the four levels -- for example, the titles of the Sensitivity discipline (beyond the "Force Sensitive" novice skill box) might be:
Jedi Initiate -> Jedi Seeker -> Jedi Scholar -> Jedi Savant
Another possibility would be to restrict Force users from advancing more than one level above any existing level. That is, you wouldn't be able to learn a Level Two skill until you'd learned all four Level One skills. Additionally, once all Level One skills are learned it would be necessary to pass the appropriate trial to open up the Level Two skill boxes.
In this case, progression through the skill tree would be keyed to the well-known level titles (plus a new title for level 2):
Force Sensitive -> Jedi Padawan (1) -> Jedi ? (2) -> Jedi (3) -> Jedi Knight (4) -> Jedi Master
Still, it would be interesting to see Jedi recognized for something other than fighting prowess (although all Jedi should be required to demonstrate fighting skills). I find the notion of progressing from Jedi Scholar to Jedi Savant fascinating!