((The RP XP with MJ #24))
The Zabrak Padawan lay cradling his dead master as the two Sith approached, their crimson blades vibrating the air as he looked helplessly up at them.
Tarik knew this was it. He had always wondered how his end would come and actually hoped it would be in combat against Sith side-by-side with his master. Of course Tarik never saw the Sith slowly stalking him after slaying his master from a distance in any of his wishful visions, not giving either of them a chance to defend themselves.
“Get it over with!” He yelled at them, his eyes welling with tears though he tried to suppress his emotions.
Most of them.
The Rattataki girl spoke first after giving her saber a threatening twirl. “He seems angry, my lord. Perhaps we can turn him.”
Darth Tagious never took his yellow eyes off the Padawan. He merely said, “He’s yours, Veetha. Play with him awhile. I will meet you at the Works.”
“Of course, my master,” Veetha’s smile was as sly as a vine cat’s.
Tarik lifted his chin to give the Sith Apprentice a clear shot, but to his surprise she only stood over him… staring as her master left.
Once her master was gone through the bay entrance, she extinguished her lightsaber and knelt before Tarik, reaching under Kendris as if offering to take his body from him.
“What are you–?”
“Shush, fool. Is he dead? Can we revive him?”
“Yes, he’s dead. Your master stabbed him in the ba–“
“I said be silent,” Veetha rasped. She glanced toward the door where her master had vanished, then turned back to the Jedi Master’s body with a frown. “I don’t have much time to explain. I’ll try to get away from Tagious in the next week or two, but it will be hard to make that happen. I sometimes fear he can see through me.”
Tarik’s jaw fell open and his forehead wrinkled with an unasked question.
“My name is Veetha Harshon. I’m going to help you.”
This week I want to share a rare RolePlaying tool that’s difficult to create though easy in principle. And, once you have it, your RP opportunities will more than double.
I’m talking about the duality of your character, playing both the light and the dark, the Republic and the Empire, this class and that class. And, no, not just by curving your alignment. It involves doubling your game time, repeating your efforts, and carefully tuning your in-game conversation responses. But the payoff is pretty nifty.
HOW IT STARTED
I created a female Zabrak Jedi I’ll call Nashiri (I’m keeping her actual name a secret because I have this character heavily involved in an existing story, so she’s not free for RP with anyone else. Read on. You’ll see why). I’ve been playing Nashiri primarily neutral; not because I’m holding out hope for some kick-ass neutral gear. No, she’s neutral because she is both driven by her attachment to the Jedi and the Jedi Code, and her personal quest to find her real father. She had long been haunted by dreams of a powerful Force-using figure she believes to be a residual aspect of her father and has dedicated her life to finding him. While studying as a Youngling and Padawan Nashiri always found herself drawn to other Zabrak children and studied the culture of her species extensively.
Such a faceted personal quest, naturally, will lead her to make selfish decisions. She’s easily frustrated, irritated and — thanks to her Zabrak pride (See Joshroom’s awesome lore on the Zabraks here) — she comes off as something of a racist to non-Zabraks (she’s particularly callous toward Twi’leks and humans). Unlike other Gray Jedi who may think the “Neutral Path of the Force” is a free ticket to a romantic relationship, Nashiri is the least likely of any of my characters to have one. Even if she finds a handsome Zabrak in her travels it’s more likely she’ll simply use him to find out what she can to help her in her personal quest.
WHERE IT’S GOING
I didn’t really settle on a duality for Nashiri until I kicked around the idea with a guildmate and fellow RPer. He has a Zabrak who just happens to be male and the approximate age that would be right for Nashiri’s father. The only catch… It turns out Nashiri’s potential daddy is a Sith Inquisitor.
It wasn’t hard to imagine a disconnect to their story. Perhaps the Inquisitor didn’t want to be saddled with a child. Maybe the mother of the child “escaped” the Sith’s influence and took her baby to Republic space and left her on the doorstep of a Jedi. Maybe some Jedi got wind of her Force sensitivity and abducted her. The possibilities are easy to imagine. I don’t know the answer because I’m leaving that to the player who controls Nashiri’s father. It’ll make for a nice RP surprise if they should ever meet one another and she gets to ask how they became separated.
The only problem is… How would the story ever end with her among the Jedi and he among the Sith? Nashiri can’t actually spend time with her father when she meets him because of the restraints dividing factions, and my co-writer and I both agreed a story without the possibility of payoff or tension would just fall flat. Nashiri would forever be a troubled Jedi who might never see her father (except in PvP). Her father would continue along his path of evil never knowing he had a daughter who balanced precariously on the line between Light and Dark, a ripe victim for his Dark Side lures.
WHAT I DID
The character creation tools in Star Wars: The Old Republic aren’t what I would call robust, but they are good enough that I could duplicate my Zabrak as a Sith Inquisitor on the Imperial side. As you can see in the image above, nearly every aspect of her physical appearance could be matched except for tattoo patterns and eye coloring. To compensate, I chose the closest match to the original as best I could and created a simple caveat to explain the rest.
I decided that Nashiri would try to infiltrate the ranks of the Sith — to basically go into disguise behind enemy lines — as she expands the search for daddy. To do this, she applies a temporary tattoo using a…. Let’s call it a “Kinetic Pigmentation Applicator.” Sounds Star Warsy, right? For her eyes, same thing. Or maybe she learned a Force trick that allows her eye color to change temporarily. It’s fiction. It’s easy enough to cover something as simple as pigmentation without really breaking canon or godmodding.
Having exhausted every possible option amongst the Jedi — she had yet to find someone who gave her a psychic “match” to her memories of this paternal ghost — Nashiri decides to go “under cover” and mask her intentions as she infiltrates the Dark Side and searches for her father among the Sith.
The duality of character works perfectly well from an RP standpoint. Surprisingly, it’s pretty cool within the parameters of BioWare’s in-game story as well. I simply answer every question they way Nashiri would if she was “posing” as a Sith, sparing lives wherever she can instead of killing indiscriminately. The only “tiny” immersion breaker comes from the meditative “seething” the Inquisitors do to regain their power. Nashiri doesn’t “seethe.” She’s a Jedi. I get past it by overlooking it, waiting out my health regen or using medpacks.
When it comes to Khem Val… let’s just say Nashiri sleeps with the lights on and always watches her back. It’s not every day you befriend a Dashade who thinks you’re his Dark Side chef.
As for Nashiri’s name and the limitations that prevent duplicate names on a server, no worries. She is undercover after all, so a simple twist on the spelling of her name from Nashiri to Sharini, Nashir or Rashini works just fine.
Among her Jedi friends, in particular the Jedi Padawan of another master she was charged with watching over, Nashiri acts suspiciously. She seems drawn to computer consoles whenever she finds a break in the action, always looking over her shoulder to make sure no one is watching. On the Sith side she keeps to herself, avoiding open areas and crowded cantinas as she looks for an older male Zabrak who gives her that daddy vibe.
The other hook in my gameplay with Nashiri comes from the timeline. Story-wise she developed quite the career among the Jedi before “crossing over.” And the question still remains as to whether or not she actually fell to the Dark Side or voluntarily pulled the craziest Jedi stunt since Revan’s mind block. I didn’t want to level and RP with a Jedi Knight, then start a Sith Inquisitor from scratch (Just because she switched sides doesn’t mean she grew “weaker”). To keep the strength of the character constant, I leveled both Nashiri and her dark counterpart simultaneously. To remedy this, I haven’t RP’d her on the Dark Side. The Nashiri-as-Sith version of my Jedi is merely leveling, her in-game answers appropriate to what she would do to get buy (and establish the fact that she won’t be prone to Sith Corruption [Even if she were, I could switch that off in prefs]). Everything I do with Dark Nashiri is taking place in Nashiri’s “future” until they both reach the RP level I’m looking for.
So… What will happen when she finally meets her father? Will she be shocked that he’s a Sith? Will she try to draw him back to the light? Will she resolve herself to family and forsake all she learned from the Jedi? Will she flee him and return to the Jedi who raised her, developing a disdain for the Sith that runs greater than the definition of “enemy”?
And what of her Jedi friends and companions? What if they find out she’s gone to the Dark Side? If she’s under cover will they believe her? If she “fell” will they try to save her? Will they try to kill her? Will her own father try to kill her?
As you can see, there’s a lot my friends and I can do with this very simply familial sub-plot, and it’s all possible because I’m using two character slots for the price of one.
TIPS TO GET STARTED
As I said at the top of this column, duality of character is a difficult process. Unless you love SWTOR that much that you don’t mind duplicating your efforts across factions, simultaneously leveling two characters who are essentially the same person, you may find it an arduous process. With Nashiri it’s been interesting because it’s fun to choose in-game options to keep her “Jedi half” intact on Korriban and Dromund Kaas. If, story wise, she does happen to fall to the Dark Side, I’ll have plenty of time to orchestrate her “turn.” She’s less than half-way to Level 50. Likewise with Nashiri’s fall from the Jedi. Since she’s neutral it will only take a “light shove” to push her over the edge. Again, easily attainable in the next 20 or so levels.
Of course my story is just one example of a possible duality. Your own character’s duality doesn’t have to cross factions; it could cross classes. Imagine how much ground you can cover with crafting and banking if you have a dual character on the same faction. Consider these ideas:
An Imperial officer who hunts bounties on the side (Imperial Agent/Bounty Hunter).
A double agent who poses as a civilian among the Republic but is actually an Imperial spy (Smuggler/Imperial Agent).
A soldier who sells secrets to the other side (Imperial Agent/Trooper)
A Jedi who has taken humility to a new level, forgoing his robes in favor of civilian attire (Jedi/Smuggler)
A Sith who takes her hatred to new levels, infiltrating Republic worlds and laying waste to all she sees (Sith/Jedi) — And easily done if you play a Jedi dark. I’ve seen a few running around with red lightsabers, a clear indication they’ve accumulated enough Dark Side points to acquire red color stones.
A Force-sensitive soldier is indoctrinated at an old age (Trooper/Jedi or Agent/Sith)
A Sith killing machine who has mastered more than a single talent (Sith Inquisitor/Sith Warrior)
A Jedi who is as much a warrior of the Force as she is a healer (Jedi Knight/Consular)
(The two above are also easily handled immersion-wise when you consider that the Knight/Consular and Warrior/Inquisitor each share the same ship).
A soldier who makes some money on the side while on leave (Trooper/Smuggler)
And on and on. If you create a character duality (or already created one — I’m not claiming to be the first one to do this. I’m just sharing my story with those who are new to the possibilities), write to me at the address below and tell me about it. I’d love to hear your story.
I’d also like to hear from you if you’d like to spotlight your RP group, guild or web site. Shoot me a line. I’d love to hear about it.
((The RP XP with MJ)) appears right here on swtor-life every Friday. MJ is an old-timer when it comes to RP, but he admits it’s a constant learning process. If you have stories, questions or ideas you’d like to share, write to him at swtorliferp(at)gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.
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