Good Sith and Evil Jedi? Wha…?

Light or Darkness

Jedi and Sith. Light and darkness. Good and evil. Simple, right? Bioware seems to be hell bent on making what we thought was simple complicated. The whole good/bad thing gets kind of fuzzy, like Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters put it. Those of us who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy know about good and evil. Darth Vader was evil, Luke Skywalker was good. Empire was evil, Rebel Alliance was good. Stormtroopers, brainless soldiers following orders to the letter with no questions asked, were evil. Smugglers and… um… murderers (Han shot first in the original) …were… um… good? Ok, so he turned good at the end of that movie, but is it so easy to define?

What is good? Oh, man, I doubt I could put that in words if I had a hundred pages to try. We all have our own definitions of good. Selflessness, heroism, courage, kindness, etc. But in the first movie, Star Wars: A New Hope, good was fairly easy to define. The people fighting the bad guys were the good guys, even if all of them were not ‘good’ themselves. Han Solo in particular was a mercenary, out for one thing and one thing only: money.  He took the charter job to carry Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids to Alderaan not out of a sense of helping others, but for one HECK of a payout promised by the Jedi. He certainly did not attack the detention bay of the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia out of the goodness of his heart. He would not have lifted a finger without the promise of a massive reward.  Yes, at the end of the movie it was shown that he was not simply a greedy, self centered scum, but it took most of the movie. But for the most part, in A New Hope, good was fairly easy to recognize. Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were good.

Now as to evil. Again, where to start? We all have our own definitions of evil. Selfishness, greed, lust for power or other gains, or simply an excess of pragmatism. Why did Darth Vader strangle people with the Force? Was it pragmatism? The easiest and quickest way? Or was it because it was the most terrifying way to do it? Did he enjoy cowing his subordinates, or was it simply the fastest and most efficient method of promoting an underling? From the time of Episode IV until the end of Episode VI, Darth Vader stood as the personification of evil to most movie goers. He wore black, he was big and scary and treated his subordinates like dirt. It wasn’t until the end of Return of the Jedi, when we see his redemption that the entire story comes to head.  Until then, he was always the bad guy, the ULTIMATE bad guy. A sound of heavy breathing still scares me to this very day, wondering if my own throat is about to be compacted by icy insubstantial fingers of the Force. Darth Vader was evil.

Now, as to good and evil in games. Most video games through the history of them, you play a good guy. From the earliest games like Defender and Galaga, you were trying to protect others, fighting unending waves of bad guys to win. There was no question, you were the hero, and what you were doing was ‘good’. Not so more modern games. Role playing games in particular have always catered to all kinds. People who wanted to play ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. Baldur’s Gate II was probably the best of its era in games where you could choose. You could be an amoral mercenary, killing anyone and everyone who got in your way, a cynical ranger dealing death to orcs and scum from a distance with a bow, or a noble paladin sworn to serve your gods and dealing holy fury to the enemies of truth and justice. Or anything in between.  And in all things, there was choice. You COULD play as a paladin and do evil. You then lost your powers and had to play the rest of the game as a fighter with a few odd quirks. I personally loved playing as a monk, always Lawful Neutral, that way I had to choose VERY carefully what to do and when.

And then games like Mass Effect, and Dragon Age: Origins where your choices for good and evil have a massive effect on the game. Do you support the noble good guy, even if he really seems to have no clue what he is doing? Or the schemer who had his brother murdered to try and snatch the throne? He knows how to get things done after all. Do you play the good cop, bringing truth and justice to dark places? Or the evil scum who is only in it for themselves? Only speaking for myself, I almost always play good guys. I see too much evil in daily life to want to perpetuate it in any way even virtually. Maybe that makes me a wimp, but I think it makes me a better person than many I meet on a daily basis.

Bioware has not given out a lot of information on the actual story of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Part of this is intended to whet potential player’s appetites, which it does very well. Part is likely because they have not finalized everything yet. I mean, come on, how COULD they have finalized it all by now? In any MMO there is a lot of stuff to get done, and in this MMO…sheesh… If half of what they tell us is true, it will put all the others to shame content wise.

But they have said that it will be possible to be a light side Sith. Or a dark side Jedi. My first reaction, like many people probably, was to say ‘WHA…?’ But then I thought about it. Jedi are not necessarily ‘good’. They have to do what it takes to protect the galaxy as a whole. Does this mean they can be paragons of virtue all the time? Heck no. Obi-Wan lies to Luke. Forget the ‘different point of view’ garbage. He flat out LIED to the young man. He did it because the truth would have caused all kinds of problems. We see Anakin, as a Jedi, act Dark Side. And that is what started his fall, in Episode II, avenging his mother.

But we never saw any Light Side Sith in any of the movies, probably because Lucas didn’t like the idea. Jedi were good and Sith were evil, period. Right? But now we have this quandary. If you are serving evil, does that make you evil? Do Sith warriors, Sith Inquisitors, Bounty Hunters and Imperial Agents HAVE to be evil in SWTOR? Bioware’s answer seems to be their stock one. ‘It is all up to the player.’

I personally am looking forward to playing a Dark Side Trooper or a Light Side Sith Warrior. How about you? What do you want to play?

Yin-yang image courtesy of: Dreamstime.