Saturday, December 21, 2019

Star Wars Episode 7: TBA (exercise in reimagining the story never told)

First of all: I have no idea what I'm doing here. Is this an attempt in fan fiction? No. Well, yes, but more like the outline of a campaign if what Lucas started had been a campaign for a a role playing game and I were to finish it (which will never happen and has happened, but might also really only happen like below in a parallel universe). What follows are the outlines of a script or the re-telling of a movie that never existed.

I couldn't help but imagining this

[skip this part if you just want to read what I imagine Ep. VII could have been like] SWIX is all the hype now. People love hating it and making that public. I saw Ep. VII once and didn't bother afterwards. From all I heard, it turned out to be a re-imagination of the original material with the same score, better visuals and worse stories telling the same and with very bad decisions about the original cast.

I can't help but think that Lucas did make a mistake when he abandoned his vision like that. However: 1. Who could blame him after the blind hate people voiced about the prequels (unjustified, imo) and 2. I guess he didn't think it'd turn out as ugly as it did (there're rumors that the evil mouse promised him creative agency and forgot about it before the ink was dry on the contract).

Anyway, I don't go to see the movies, but I follow the discussion. Mainly because lots of people have interesting opinions and insights on the subject. There's nostalgia in there, too. I love Star Wars and its Expanded Universe. I've played the games, read some of the books (intending to read more of the old ones) and I will never cease telling people that they can have all the Star Wars they want and the way they want it FOR FREE just a download away.

Enough SW for several lifetimes [source]
In a way, this is the peanut gallery talking here, but my point is that we shouldn't be afraid to tell those stories the way we want them to be told, especially after a soulless corporation had made a public sacrifice of the franchise to their god Mammon.

I know this isn't something I do often on the blog, but I am a DM and a storyteller. Things like this happen in my brain every so often and since this specific story came together over the course of a couple of hours without me doing anything but writing down some highlights, I couldn't help but sharing it here.

I'll add that this is written under the assumption of fair use: it earns me nothing and it teaches the reader about how to structure a story (for movies or books or role playing campaigns).

It's also what I'd like to see, not necessarily what others would have liked to see (ok, so it is fanfiction :P ).

A long time ago, in a Galaxy,  far far away ...

Setup - The story is set 20 years after the death of emperor Palpatine. The Republic is in a bad state and still hasn't recovered from the war and the harsh rule of the empire. They have made the public trials, they've hunted down some of the perpetrators but billions of credits are missing and the Dark Sith Lord had left some very effective contingency plans that resulted in a dangerous Deep State manipulating and pushing the new Republic to make all the bad decisions they could make.

People are unhappy. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and all injustices are disguised as well intended or the right thing to do. Corruption is a massive problem.

Politics was a big thing in the prequels and the EU (Clonewars, for instance), so this would be an opportunity to add some more perspectives. I call it The Deep State Arc and some of it would the classic Star Wars Prologue (the yellow floating text disappearing into the distance ... you know the drill), some of it would serve as the stage for the story.

Galactic Senate, reinstated [source]
Story 1 - This would be the main story. It'd be about Han, Leia and their daughter (let's just call her R. for no particular reason). The family is all but broken apart. Han is in prison for a crime no one talks about (which will be hinted towards and get important in Ep. VIII, for now he's just bitter and broken and old). He ignores the Hologram messages Leia is smuggling in there (with a cute little robot that might have a little arc himself, obviously) and seems to grief (for reasons explained later in the story).

Princess Leia is back in politics and tries to fill the shoes of her mother, which is the main reason for the scorn she receives from her daughter (who is around 20, a student and activist).

In the beginning they just have video conferences where they don't get along while being busy doing what they do (the princess being in the senate, the other being on demonstrations against one injustice or another). In the best sense they offer "show don't tell" as the reader/viewer/player explores the changes in the universe through their eyes and conflicts (instead of just being told).

Anyway, this changes as some assassins try to kill R., who barely gets away (she has a Jedi protection detail getting the job done ... first time lightsabers should make an appearance). It'll get obvious that R. is not taught how to be a Jedi but instead forbidden to even address the topic.

Well, after the assassination attempt she is sent home to her mother. There, surrounded by pictures and signs of a happy childhood (with a father and an uncle and a happy mother), the rift between her and Leia will be all the more obvious. It escalates one evening when R. confronts her mother about not being allowed to use the force.

Turns out, Leia had to make political concessions that denied the Skywalker bloodline access to the Jedi order. Gaining the knowledge from anywhere else would be considered a crime. It's another reason for R. having a Jedi Protection Detail: they keep her in check. It also forced Luke into exile. He and Leia parted in bad blood over this, it seems.

While this happens, R. decides to stay true to the rebellious daughter theme and starts investigating the attempt on her life. She goes places she shouldn't and asks questions she shouldn't, all without supervision, of course. That'd be the middle part of the story. A bit of action, some close calls and little revelations to keep the tension up.

Her first big clue is a guy she keeps recognizing being close to her in all the footage she can gather (she starts with the night they tried to kill her and works her way back to public announcements and demonstrations and all kinds of places where she was in public and filmed ...). He's the pattern and a ghost. Information about him seems to be protected by the Jedi order (which makes her distrust the order even more). He's about her age, has a limp and features a mean facial scar (let's call him K. for no obvious reason).

The guy is an enigma. What she can glean is ambivalent. He seems to be a good guy, but his hate towards her is also proven somewhere down the road (it'd be one of the revelations, maybe a room he had rented with lots of pictures of her, some mutilated ...).

She's also followed by a hooded figure. One time she sees the figure by chance, a second time she follows him (or her) but he escapes.

Somewhere in between it'll become obvious that she has talent in the force, but keeps it hidden, mainly using it when she is on her own.

All the way through someone is planning another go at killing her. K. seems to be involved, but there's also a figure in the shadow pulling strings.

So there's a lot going on. At some point she decides that she wants to set up a trap for the guy she is convinced planned her death. She makes contact with some of her activist friends and organizes attending a demonstration (setting: a continent devastated by a fallen Imperial Star Destroyer // Ruins of a City, leakage and radiation zones and wreckage).

Something like that ... [source]
K. appears and follows R., being all sinister and shit. She dupes her detail, making sure he follows. She confronts him in [some iconic piece of a Star Destroyer] and asks him why he wants her dead. He tells her that he had survived her grandfather's attack on the Jedi temple (BIG revelation, shifting the perception the readers/viewers/players have of the character ... there should be a flashback to that scene in there somewhere). Barely so, as proven by the scars. His parents had not been so lucky, and he wanted revenge. He planned revenge ... but he couldn't bring himself to do it.

So the next thing we learn is that he wasn't the one behind the assassination attempt. He tried to find who it was, but couldn't find the culprit (maybe he has another piece of the puzzle, but it tells us nothing without context). Both leave the encounter confused. They have some chemistry, but he is a monster and hates her.

She is about to leave the wreckage they have met in, when the true assassins make their move. The odds are against her, but K. comes to her aid and they can overcome the mercenaries sent to kill her. That's, of course, when the puppeteer makes an appearence, lightsaber and all. It's a Sith and he makes known how annoying he thinks they are. Takes his time, too, maybe tells some of his plans.

K. is paralysed, almost catatonic when confronted with a lightsaber. R. makes an attempt to attack with the force, but is shut down hard, K. tries to overcome his fears and charge, but is stabbed and stays down. Before the Sith (S. seems to be appropriate, for no reason at all), the last little mystery is solved and the hooded figure intervenes.

It is a Jedi and there'll be impressive and brutal swordplay and force shenanigans, escalating to an explosion that causes a panic at the demo. S. is killed. The Jedi is, of course, Luke Skywalker, protecting his niece.

L. Skywalker, Mickey Rourke version [source]
He tells her about the Deep State and about the conspiracy's plan to annihilate the Skywalker bloodline for good. They are all in danger, but he says the time to wait is over. She wants to go with him, learn how to use the force and find the fuckers responsible for this. They leave in the chaos and take the unconscious K. with them.

I call this The Beauty and the Beast Arc and it will carry into the next Episode.

Now, that was the climax of the first part. Let's set up the next.

Leia is told by the Jedie protection detail that her daughter is lost and most likely died in the explosion. It's unclear why they don't know better or why they are lying. She is distraught and goes to a place where she can be alone (what place this woulod be should be established some time before). Here she can let go and cry. But she is a Skywalker and the force is with her. She has a vision of her daughter and her brother (maybe training?) and it gives her hope.

The last scene of the story/movie/campaign would be her and Lando helping Han escape from prison ...

Story 2 - This basically sets up part of Ep. VIII and builds the mystery about why Han went on that last mission, how he ended up in prison and what happens there. It's not a lot I have there, but main reason for his grief is that Chewbacca died because of it. I'm thinking, they went after a politician that was big back with the empire but it went horribly wrong. His reasons would stay iunclear, though (it's that trope where what he did seems wrong, if seen out of context, a bit like what with K. happens).

Story 3... - There could be other side-plots that establish characters that might get important later on. From what I've heard, Lucas planned this thir trilogy to be a spiritual journey, so that would be a place to start. But I'll leave it at that for now. However, to give this the space opera fee, it'd be necessary to have spectacular settings, weird customs and interesting cultures and a huge cast (imo).

Well, ok, that's that. I needed to get this out of me, so to say. It has conflict over 3 generations, it has potential and tension, the old characters are still around and have to work a little for another happy end, the new characters are set up for a journey and the world is in enough turmoil to go several directions.

An Episode 8 would have the spiritual awakening as a theme and how R. and K. find each other. It would prepare and end with a huge escalation of the conspiracy, definitely gearing towards some sort of war. The 9th would be the final confrontation and the redemption of the Skywalkers. Maybe Anakin gets to apologize to K., wouldn't that be something?

Depending on the medium this would play out in, you'd have to focus on several different things here. A book would need more expostion and more characters and more arcs and introspection. Film would need lots of set design and effects and choreography, computer games would need several outcomes and an adventure structure and a combat system, skills, the works. A role playing campaign would need opportunities for the players to accompany the main characters (assuming taht the main arcs play out as the characters are around to have an impact on things).

But in the end, that'd be the story I'd have told. If you've read this far, I hope you've enjoyed it.


I know, this was strange. As I said above, I don't do this often, and don't think I'll do it more often in the future ... but I keep thinking that doing something like that can help setting the world a bit right after the injustice big corp did the franchise.

Actually, it's a well ignored fact that the original Star Wars rpg had a crucial part in keeping the franchise alive. More so than anyone would have (or could have) imagined. 

So I'd go one step further and offer that I'd be interested to flesh this out for REUP, make it a campaign for real, with the story above being the stage for the characters to make a difference and bear witness how the Skywalker saga ends. I just wouldn't do it alone. It'd need art and editing and all that jazz, even if it just were to publish this guerilla-style and for free (because, the law).

Since I don't think that that's going to happen, I'll leave it at that for now and hope you found some enjoyment in my take on how one could have spun that story beyond episode 6. I sure as hell liked the theatre in my mind more than what I've seen from the official version :)

The true story ... [source]