Bending a few laws until they squeal

Well, last week we found out a few more things about one of the most beloved classes in Star Wars. The smuggler has always had an odd place in people’s hearts. The rogue has always been a particular favorite in role playing games of all kinds. Everything from the burglar, to the pickpocket, to the tomb raider and the assassin, have been played in all kinds of games. Sometimes they have a heart of gold and sometimes they have a heart of ice. And sometimes, they are both, depending on the circumstances. Smugglers have a place near and dear to the hearts of Star Wars fans, due in no small part to a carpenter who was given an audition on the spur of the moment. The man who defines ‘smuggler’ for my generation, Harrison Ford, the man who played Han Solo.

Everyone remembers Han Solo, the king of all smugglers. Even if he was down on his luck during the original trilogy, he was still (supposedly anyway) the greatest smuggler of the time. He either had the fastest ship in the galaxy or the fastest tongue. No doubt about it, he was an incredible pilot with great luck at times and absolutely abysmal luck at others. Han was always more my favorite character than Luke, because Han would do whatever it took to win. Luke always had those pesky scruples get in his way. Han was always more pragmatic. He lied, he cheated, he stole. And when it all came apart, he pulled his blaster. He was sneaky. Come on, how many of YOU would have imagined to hang your ship on the back of an Imperial Star Destroyer’s bridge tower while trying to escape it? And by the end of Return of the Jedi, he is shown as truly a good man, not just in it for money. Romancing a princess never hurts either.

A lot of thought obviously went into the smuggler class in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Jedi can live in a perfect world, where they can do the right thing every time. Smugglers have to survive however they can. And if that means a few pesky local regulations, or Imperial decrees get ignored or tramped into the dust? Who cares as long as the smuggler gets what he needs? That may be the goods delivered on time, a ‘special’ job done for the Republic, or simply getting out of a cantina alive after a deal goes wrong. Or it may be something more. Why do people smuggle? In most cases, perhaps 90%, it is economics. I have actually met a couple of people in real life who I am almost absolute certain were smugglers. One of them said something to me that stuck.

She said: “The money is good, but the main thing for many people is the thrill. You are doing something that is against the law. Maybe the law is stupid, maybe it isn’t. But what you are doing is against the law. There is no denying the fact that there is a thrill involved in pulling it off, in showing that your skill is more than the skill of the law enforcement agents.” But then she laughed. “The money doesn’t hurt either.” I never saw her again after that. I never found out her last name, and I am never likely to – it was twenty years ago.

For her and people like her, it was a game, a game with incredibly high stakes. A game with a large element of danger involved. A game where, if you make a wrong move at the wrong time, you are caught, or worse. This is the mindset that Bioware seems to have been shooting for in this game. If so, they seem to have hit the bull’s eye from what we have seen.

The smuggler advanced classes that Bioware revealed last week seem to fit Star Wars to a ‘T’. The gunslinger and scoundrel advanced classes sound like a lot of fun. The scoundrel is the sneaky one. A ‘stealth belt’ and  a scattergun sound right up my kind of alley. But for other types, those who like the Wild Bill Hickok type, the gunslinger is for them.

It is odd, gunslingers were never really heroes. People like Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and others, were anything but heroic. The Hollywood ideal of two men with low slung guns facing each other in the street at high noon is complete rubbish for the most part. Yes, Wild Bill did it a couple of times, but he was crazy. And anyone going up against him was also crazy. And the thing about the gunfight at the OK Corral? According to several sources, half of the Clantons were not armed when the Earps and Doc Holliday arrived. Some fair fight.

But that is the point. Why fight fair? If it is a matter of survival, almost anyone who has ever been shot at will tell you the same thing. HANG scruples, rules, laws or anything else. Give me something solid to hide behind while I gun my enemy down. That part of the smuggler class is very realistic.

These are not stand up fighters, although they can. These are not heavily armored enough to take whatever punishment is dished out at them. And they don’t have some hokey religion and ancient weapon to give them an edge. What they have are their wits, their skills and their nerve. And now, we have seen the ship as well.

The XS Stock Light is based on the old Ebon Hawk from Knights of the Old Republic. Just looking at it, it looks fast and powerful. The fact that it has two turrets and missile launchers will help out when those pesky cops and Imperial patrols start getting too close. The fact that it has smuggling compartments is also a plus, for when you are either caught red handed, or need to hide something. Just as long as you don’t have to hide yourself in one of those compartments. Even if that was a classic scene, Han, Chewie, Luke and Obi Wan sneaking into the Death Star inside one of the Millenium Falcon’s hidden compartments, I don’t want to reprise that scene.

Oh and speaking of that. What is Bioware thinking? The companion for the smuggler is going to be a Wookiee? Aw man… How unoriginal can you get? I mean he is obviously NOT Chewbacca, but still…sheesh.

Over to you. Do you want to be scum and villainy? And if so, heart of gold or heart of ice?