Force Mechanics

The notion of the Force having a dark side and a light side has yet to be developed. Force users comparing notes have identified a dichotomy in how passion interacts with power. A strong will helps with any Force power, but these traits affect particular areas. The two poles they have identified do not have obvious cognates in Basic; the best terms are loanwords from alien languages.

Skran is a Sith word most commonly translated as virtue, power, or mastery. It has strong correlations with passion and ego; in the Force, it is action, motion. People with high skran find it easier to use projective powers that force the world to conform to their will. The key to this is fueling power with passion; a high-skran individual can be passionate about justice just as easily as hatred... but may have to work hard to restrain their anger in other situations. Fueling power with passion is a rush: the sensation is incredibly intense, and can become addictive. People with high skran and low willpower tend to have anger management issues. Those with high skran will often seem intense and vibrantly alive; this provides charisma bonuses with the right sort of people.

Chur is an Ithorian word most commonly translated as virtue, wisdom, or perspective. It has strong correlations with serenity and (depending on who you talk to) altruism or enlightened self-interest; in the Force, it is perception, stillness. The key is letting go of emotion when calling on the Force; a high-chur individual need not suppress their emotions, but will not be swept away by them. Fueling powers with chur yields deep serenity and is not addictive. People with high chur find it easier to use powers that require understanding of the world. People with high chur and low willpower tend to be easily cowed. Those with chur will often seem serene and vibrantly alive; this provides charisma bonuses with the right sort of people.

Skran and chur are not symmetric. It is easier to move toward skran than toward chur, easier to control yourself when you are closer to chur than toward skran.

Gear

When Sith need to restrain other Sith, they usually do so with a mixture of drugs and electrical stimulation of the brain to induce confusion. A Power shackle is a headband that reads the brainwaves of its wearer and applies disruptive currents any time it sees patterns approaching a coherent thought; someone with a power shackle on can eat and listen to music and watch situation comedies on the holovid, but they can’t cook a meal or read a book or provide answers to detailed questions. They come with straps and other countermeasures to keep the headband firmly locked to the head. Cost is Great (¤10,000).

The Path of Temptation

The power of the Force comes from within, and calling upon your passions can enhance that power. This is an exhilarating experience, suffusing your entire being with that passion. Calling upon the quieter passions like Serenity, Benevolence, and Calm is a peaceful experience. Calling upon the active passions like Anger, Desire, Love, Fear, Pride, and Hatred is an incredible rush of power, and can be psychologically addictive. It is possible to call upon righteous wrath, fear for the safety of your friends, and hatred for a person who has wronged you— but these emotions will also tempt you when you have no such justification.

Game mechanically, this means that you can invoke your passionate aspects as well as your Force aspect to boost your Force powers. The aspect need not be directly passionate; it is just as easy to invoke a character trait that will give rise to passions. Your character may be Serene or Meditative or Contemptuous or Mercurial, or just as easily Loyal or Righteous or Protective. You can also use your Resolve as a maneuver to induce temporary aspects in yourself— though it is much faster to work up a head of steam than it is to achieve a state of calm!

Using the Force requires calling on your innermost nature, and using it for a given effect works to define you, much more than an ordinary action does. Because of this, moral challenges that come from use of the Force can create mental stress.

Sentient beings are almost always social animals, and unless you possess an aspect that represents your deviation from your social norms (e.g. Ruthless), violating them will come back to haunt you. Most societies do not sanction killing innocent people. An assassin who only accepts targets within social sanction (e.g.: people who already have blood on their hands) will experience lesser challenges than one who is willing to murder innocents. Torture is actually a stronger challenge than assassination: killing quickly is less strain on your empathy.

I’m using innocent as shorthand for someone protected by social sanction; in most societies, this will include innocents and people who have redeemed themselves for any past misdeeds. Similarly, I use malefactor to refer to someone who has violated the norms of your society to the degree that they are no longer under its protection. When in a setting with the aspect Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy, it is reasonable to assume that most people qualify as malefactors, but you never know when there are a few innocents in a crowd. Ultimately, it comes down to how you define personhood; it is possible to be kind, caring, and loving to the people you perceive as your own while being cruel and heartless to those you regard as nonpersons, but this attitude is also effectively an aspect that can be tagged against you when interacting socially with the beings you consider nonpersons. Under the Sith, many people happily regard slaves as nonpersons, particularly in the gladiatorial arenas. Remember that people are irrational: someone might feel compassion for their own household slaves, but have none at all for those in the ring. Don’t be overly strict on the game mechanics here.

From the game mechanics perspective, temptation manifests as an internal conflict, defended with Resolve, which inflicts mental stress and eventual consequences that affect you emotionally. (Note that this stress track is the same one that fuels your Force powers.) If you currently have passionate consequences, these block your ability to call upon the calmer passions. If you are Taken Out, your aspect most opposed to this stress will change to one more compatible with it (e.g.: your Thoughtful aspect becomes Brutal). You may also Concede by changing any personality aspect to be more compatible (e.g.: your Principled aspect becomes Pragmatic). You aren’t stuck with these for all time; if your roleplaying shows your character is overcoming this change, you can find your way back.

These things usually come back to haunt you at times of stress. This is normally a task for the game master, who should reference the previous occasions giving rise to the current stress, but if the player (or another player) really enjoys roleplaying the struggle of conscience, they can do so just as well! Don’t overdo it— if the GM says your conscience is clearly healthy!, that’s a hint. A grateful GM may give you a fate point if you’ve done a good job by saving him work without interrupting the flow of the game.

You eventually get over these things. If you change one of your character’s aspects (either from being Taken Out or giving up a Concession), challenges may simply drop away. You may permanently reduce a challenge by changing an aspect in reaction, such as to Atoning or Penitent; a character who has committed grave crimes won’t clear their conscience that way, but they can reduce the challenge to the point that it’s manageable. If you perform a heroic deed that is greater than the harmful one that is troubling you, the challenge may be greatly reduced. (Blowing up a space station the size of the Death Star would normally be an Epic blow to your conscience, but saving planets from being wiped out— a Legendary crime— outweighs it.)

Shedding an aspect acquired through temptation is more tricky: for an entire story, you must avoid calling upon it, and must resist it every time it is compelled; if, in the process of the story, you seriously risked your own life for your ideals, you can change the aspect, though it may not be quite the same as it was before.

Introspective characters can also engage in soul-searching to work out their internal challenges. This can happen at most once per game session; if you’re doing it on-screen, make it entertaining for the other characters, or get them involved by letting them roleplay your temptations.

ChallengeDifficulty
Killing in self-defense when you had other options. Pre-emptively inflicting harm on a malefactor to forestall greater harm. Accidental harm of innocents. Holding back when you could prevent harm to innocents, but would likely experience repercussions. Average (1)
Using skran to fuel a peaceful power, like Force Healing. Pre-emptively maiming or killing a malefactor to forestall greater harm. Accidental killing of innocents. Thoughtless harm to others. Holding back when you could prevent harm to innocents without serious consequences to yourself. Fair (2)
Using skran to fuel a defensive power, like Force Deflection. Heedless cruelty. Assassination of a malefactor. Good (3)
Using skran to fuel an offensive power, like Force Lightning. Active malice. Torture of a malefactor. Wiping out an entire hostile group, even though many of them had no hope of harming you (such as a street gang wielding broken bottles against blasters). Great (4)
Deliberately killing an innocent. Superb (5)
Deliberately killing a helpless innocent. Torturing an innocent. Blood sacrifice of sentient beings. Decimating your troops. Fantastic (6)
Mass slaughter. Epic (7)
Killing off the population of an entire planet. Genocide. Legendary (8)

When gauging challenges, remember that how close you get to the victims matters. Killing with a sword is more personal than shooting them with a blaster, and that’s more of a challenge than arming a thermal detonator and rolling it into a gang hideout. The challenge can be changed retroactively if the personal consequences are made clear: a big orange ball of fire is abstract, but dozens of maimed burn victims is concrete.

Some sample consequences include: Annoyed, Angry, Enraged; Nervous, Fearful, Terrified; Callous, Contemptuous, Malicious.

Challenges from the movies: Han Solo shooting Greedo before Greedo could get a shot off was just self-defense. Obi-Wan Kenobi killing someone in a bar in Mos Eisley to stop a fight before it stated was Fair. Anakin’s vengeance for the death of his mother, killing an entire tribe of sandpeople, was a Fantastic challenge (though it would only have been Great if he had spared the noncombatants); his slaughter of the younglings was Epic.