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Cthulhu Star Wars mash up help

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#21 yronimoswhateley


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Posted 18 June 2017 - 01:40 AM

The more I think of it, the more I think that the Force, in a Lovecraftian universe, is an unnatural alteration of the physical laws of the universe - in effect, equivalent to Mythos magic.  So, I think that I would impose a sanity penalty on even light-side Force use, with some limited possibility to resist the effects.  The best efforts of Jedi masters to train their monks and knights and wizards to resist the call of the ultimate cosmic madness while using the force, through self-discipline, meditation, asceticism, and other such techniques, along with the satisfaction of knowing that your use of the Force has had some positive effect in the universe at large, if only for the short term, only slow the Jedi's descent into madness, it doesn't stop it.


It's probably a bit simpler to do things that way in game terms, too, and I kind of find the idea aesthetically pleasing besides, from both Lovecraftian and Star Wars aspects, that the best efforts of investigators and Jedi Knights alike to twist the laws of reality for even the best of intentions are ultimately doomed to corrupt the well-meaning heroes and their efforts, paving their roads to hell with good intentions as they are cursed to do the wrong things for the right reasons when trying to use the Force like a weapon for good.  I can almost imagine all of the Dark Side Force-using villains of the universe feeling just as certain that they are using the Force for good as their opponents are of their own good intentions.


I suppose that the notion that there is a Light Side and a Dark Side of the force might even be an illusion of unreliable narrators, Jedi Masters who keep telling themselves and their students that they alone seem to have the self-discipline and good intentions to use the Force for good, while their enemies must be failing due to some sort of weakness that turns them to a Dark Side, when, ultimately, there is no Light or Dark side, only an impersonal and amoral Force that, in the end, ruin all Jedi, good and bad, strong and weak, selfless and selfish alike....


The comparison to a "drug" might be accurate in more ways than one, with the Jedi dancing precariously at the edge of abuse and addiction, always certain that they can stop any time they want, that they know their limitations, that they can control it, that a little bit won't hurt, that it's everyone else who slips up and becomes a slave to the drug, but not them....


I suppose that the Jedi might be considered splinters of a very powerful and influential Mythos Cult in this sense... ensnared far more deeply into the cult of using the Force than other, more reasonable members, with some of the most ferocious conflicts being not between those between the Light and Dark side of the force, but those who are willing to use the Force to change the world for better or worse, and those who understand and fear the consequences of doing so with even the best of intentions.


The wisest Jedi masters, in the end, might be those who realize that there is no Light or Dark side of the Force, but only the Force, and that each time a Jedi chooses to use the Force, for good or ill, that Jedi is playing with an incredibly dangerous and seductive kind of fire, and that genuine mastery of the Force lay in resisting the temptation to use it for any purpose, a temptation that almost no free, conscious, thinking being can long resist.... 


The ultimate philosophical question at the heart of the Jedi teaching is a question of whether it is better to resist the temptation of using the Force, or to sacrifice one's self in using the Force for a greater good.


A similar question, I think, is at the heart of many aspects of the Call of Cthulhu RPG and its descendants:  do you burn the tome, or do you read it and sacrifice a little of your sanity in the name of stopping a Mythos threat?  Do you resist the temptation of using the spell you just learned, or do you try to use it for good and accept the consequences that come with that use?  Do you ignore the weird sounds coming from behind the locked door, or do you throw the door open wide, open the shutters, and look upon the horror hidden within in the full and glaring light of day?  Do you let an innocent person who might turn into a monster go free, or do you kill her and live with the guilt of what you have done, knowing that you may have spared the world from a potential monster?  Do you mind your own business and live a simple and mundane life, or do you take the bait and follow the plot hook into the horrors that wait for you?


I don't think that such decisions are totally incompatible with the Star Wars universe: there are hints of such conflicts all through at least the original films, in when it's appropriate for Luke to abandon his friends and keep training to be a Jedi, or abandon his training and save his friends, and whether using the Force to defeat his enemies is really a victory for "Light", or instead delivers him to the "Dark" side.  I think it's probably more largely a question of how interesting any particular audience for the Star Wars universe might find those questions, vs. a far simpler and more clear-cut conflict of Light-vs.-Dark.

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#22 SavageBob



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Posted 18 June 2017 - 02:39 PM

Yes, I think your musings here are great grist for a Lovecraftian Star Wars game. Treating the Force (light or dark) as a corrupting influence on Jedi and Sith alike represents well Lovecraft's theme that gaining Mythos knowledge is striking a Faustian bargain: It can help stave off the Bad Things, but it destabilizes the person using it, no matter their "good" intentions.
However, if adopted for a Star Wars RPG (using one of the Star Wars RPG systems), this stance on Force use would require some balancing factors to make it fair on the PCs. At least in the Fantasy Flight Star Wars rules, Force use is already fairly underpowered, at least at early stages of play. Even in advanced play, a Force user is no more capable than a bush pilot or smuggler with equal amounts of earned XP. This is because the Force and its powers are a deep XP sink: To be able to do the mystical feats of a Yoda or an Obi-Wan or even a Luke takes a lot of XP that the smuggler character can just dump into Piloting (Space) or buying cool talents that let her charm a Hutt or shoot a blaster in the dark or whatever. In short, if Force use makes you go insane, but piloting a ship doesn't, this interpretation of the Force would make playing Force-using characters unfair from a balance perspective.
So, one way to handle this disparity might be to just tell the players that no one may start out as a Force user. The era of play would likely be the Imperial period, when Force users are rare anyway. Discovering the lost mysteries of the Jedi and their ilk becomes part of the adventure, as it may be necessary to stymie the plans of an evil cult. At such a time as the PCs discover the Lost Holocron of the Mad Monk of Mantooine, they can decide whether they'll try to master the Force techniques his holographic avatar describes, knowing it will make them more unstable mentally. The disadvantage of this interpretation is that for a lot of players, Force wizardry is one of the main draws of playing in the Star Wars universe. To prevent Force users at character generation might turn a lot of people off this idea. But, with the right group, I could see this working. (Perhaps it would easier to bring in a seasoned group of CoC/ToC players than to go the other way around.)
Another option, and one that I've been toying with, would be to institute a Sanity system in the Fantasy Flight Star Wars game. I like the Pillars of Sanity used in Trail of Cthulhu, and bringing that concept into Star Wars might provide an avenue for a Jedi-type character to use the Force while staving off its dementing effects, as you suggested. So long as the Jedi PC can continue believing that she's fighting the good fight, her character can remain deluded enough to avoid a precipitous decline into madness, at least. I'm still working out the mechanics of how this might work in FFG's system, but it might be a way to let the PCs still be Force users from the get-go if they'd like to. I think it would be incumbent on the GM, though, to make sure they understand that Force use will have definite drawbacks in this type of game.
Of course, the third option is to not go with the Force-use-corrupts idea. Instead, Force use is just another natural part of the way the universe works, like gravity and hyperspace travel. Perhaps in this interpretation, basic Force use is fine: Moving something with your mind, doing a mind trick on the stormtrooper, whatever. Using the Force in these ways is just like reading an ancient manuscript in Lovecraft; it may touch on horrors very peripherally, but not enough to impact your sanity. But out there lie certain forgotten Force techniques that are the really bad ones, the ones more akin to Mythos tomes that shouldn't be opened. Some of these have been passed on by high-ranking Jedi as "light side" powers, while others are the purview of the Sith. But they are all focused on interacting with the Mythos entities that are out there, and these powers specifically are the ones to be avoided. This interpretation of Force use would be the pulpiest option, but it would also result in a game that is more Star Wars in spirit than Lovecrafian in spirit.

#23 rimren



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Posted 09 July 2017 - 12:41 PM

Hey Yoggies, 


On the last Breakfast Club I mentioned that I had tried and failed to work out how to run a Call of Cthulhu / Star Wars mash up. Can you lot help me rationalise the two antithetical world views?


Here is some background on this, starting with why do it in the first place:

- I really enjoy playing the new Star Wars roleplaying game system from Fantasy Flight

- I wanted to create a wacky one-shot scenario for a YSDC Games Day

- Cthulhu in space works really well (cf. John Ossoway's excellent Cthulhu Rising)

- Its Star Wars!


The problems I encountered are this:

- CoC is set in a dark world where nothing is clear cut and hope is ultimately foolish

- Star Wars is a world of black and white where there is always hope of redemption against the odds

- What is the Force? How does this work with occult weirdness?


I could just ignore all these implications and plop a CoC scenario into the Star Wars universe. But how do I make it feel Lovecraftian and Star Warsian at the same time. 


Can it be done?




Have you seen Mad Cthulhu, the streamlining of CoC rules that Chimerae Hobby Group has done along the FFG lines?


 Star Wars can easily be "Lovecrafted." The Force is basically Azathoth and then some... a mindless, uncaring entity that plays with the lives of billions of billions without even being aware of it. It does not offer afterlife, It does not offer eternal peace, It does not even offer hellfire... It simply does not care. All that anyone (except the few sorcerers that mastered blasphemous rites to extend their will unto death) ever gets in death is the cold embrace of the Abyss and eternal darkness of the Oblivion, wheter he was Its servant, or not, wheter he was "good," or "evil" according to the arbitrary morality standards of sentient apes. Some individuals who are infected with a certain species of space germ get magical powers from It, but they are not masters of the Force. Oh no! They are even more Its slaves than those without foul space magics. Whenever this "Force" entity is "out of balance," whatever drek it means, it forces the Galaxy into fratricidal total war, where two sides annihilate each other for no apparent reason, and leaders of these endevours are these meddlesome sorcerers.


And when you really think about it are Jedi really "good"? They kidnap children to indoctrinate into their cult! They scheme, they plot, they manipulate. Sometimes they even outright control peoples' minds with their space magic! How in the world can a "mind rape" be considered good? Sith, at the very least are honest. When they enslave you, you are aware of it. Jedi are far more insidious. When they enslave you, you think you are doing your own bidding, not theirs... you are unaware of your slavery.

Edited by rimren, 10 July 2017 - 07:19 PM.

#24 Gaffer


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Posted 09 July 2017 - 06:29 PM

What about setting your story before Episode 1?

Something (Azathoth) is disrupting the Force out in the just-being-explored center of the universe. Send out some Jedi and some droids under the command of a Senator or two. Might someone be a covert Sith? Might.
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