Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Starry Wisdom

1. Discuss:

I was never totally sure why everyone wanted to be Han Solo. Maybe it was because he wasn’t born into it, like Luke, with the birthright and the natural talent for the Force and the premade story. Solo had to make his own story. He was a freelance protagonist, a relatively ordinary guy who got to the major leagues by being quick with a gun and a joke. He was, basically, a hero because he was funny.

(-From How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu)(A good book)

w/r/t: (pick at least one or make up your own)

Sandbox hero v. plot fiat hero
Taking gaming seriously v. not
"Actually the real reason is..."

2. (Extra credit) (quote continues...)


Whatever the reason, first place was always Solo, always, always, always, and second place was usually Chewbacca, because if you weren't the one saving the galaxy, you might as well be eight feet tall and covered with hair.

(pick at least one or make up your own)

Gonzo players
Heroism v. weirdism

3. (extra extra credit) Considering your answers to (1) and (2), explain about Boba Fett.


  1. It's odd that he says "I was never totally sure why" but then goes on to explain exactly why.

  2. Remember that during the late 70s, "Smokey & The Bandit" was a huge hit. Outlaw truck drivers were all the rage, and Han Solo was the quintessential outlaw space trucker. Chewbacca was his "He ain't hairy, he's my brother" best friend, whose symbolism actually warped back around into the mundane when 1978's "Every Which Way But Loose" featured Clyde, the orangutan "co-pilot" to Clint Eastwood.

    Also: Luke and Leia were annoying perfect and therefore hard to identify with. Solo was conflicted and had failings which made him more accessible and human.

    Boba Fett was merely the empty shell into which the "badass ass-kicker" fantasy of a thousand teenage male ids were projected. That's identification of a different sort.

  3. All Champions need a Companion, as both Moorcock's Elric and Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces attest, and Han was that man. Of the pair, one has to be unwilling, whether the Hero unwilling to surrender to the machinations of Fate that await him like Hawkmoon, who must be prodded by D'arvec to seek the Runestaff, or the reticent Han who rightly laughs at the idea of rescuing a princess instead of paying off debts or smuggling spice. As Hemingway tells us in A Farewell to Arms, all heros are boooooring, and Luke's blandness needs Han's badboyishness as a counterpoint. Look at the prequels - boring Anakin + boring Obi Wan + annoying Jar jar + boring Amagdalyha = shite. That is why Grognardia needs JOESKY and Raggi needs Porn Stars.

  4. 1. Luke just seems to bounce from pillar to post at the behest of whoever's more important than him at the moment. He doesn't resist or try to seize control of his destiny, he just whines ineffectively about it. Han is always trying to peel off and do his own thing, actively resenting all this 'destiny' nonsense that he seems to have been dragged into and that always seems to catch up with him.

    I also think there's a fannish tendency to latch onto characters who obviously have some life outside the plot and consider/fantasise about that (see also: the 33% of fanfiction that's not either bad or porn). Han has deeds and doings and contacts outside the plot (some, admittedly, become plot-critical during the films, but they're still things from outside the ill-fated House of Skywalker), while the Skywalkers seem to have been waiting to be Skywalkers, and anything of their lives outside that is pulverised by the end of the first film.

    2: It's a big, cosmopolitan universe. One thing that Star Wars does very well is avoid segregating everyone off according to species/ideology and manufacturing conflicts between them; the Empire is monolithically pro-human, admittedly, but that's part of what makes them eeeeeevil, this sticking their fingers in their eyes and ignoring/oppressing most anything that isn't the same species as Palpatine.

    (Okay, so Thrawn, but two things. First, tokenism. Look it up. Second, I could care less for the extended universe, but only if someone actually drilled out the parts of my brain that give a shit about anything.)

    The point is that the Rebel Alliance and Jabba's palace and Bespin and most of the places we go to in the films that *aren't* the corridors of Imperial power have this whole bunch of aliens living and working together and yes, sometimes oppressing or abusing each other, and nobody seems to think droids are proper people, but you know what? That's still a pretty convincing society. And none of this species conflict stuff is overt, it's not a tubthumping polemical allegory or anything, it's just there, part of how the universe works. Non-humans are characters, and not token characters - it's non-humans all the way down, unless you're Palpatine.

    3. See Erin's, I guess? Guy does a lot of flying around shooting things, it's almost swashbuckly, and we know nothing else about him until the prequels. Badass. People like badassery. It's an ominous-pause Interesting choice to have this largely incidental character kick ass and then be chucked out, but Lucas is all about ominous-pause Interesting choices.

  5. It should, for clarity, read 'manufacturing conflicts between them and then having those conflicts be the de facto driving force of the plot'.

  6. Han Solo has one major flaw; no lightsaber. That is a tough row to hoe, because at least when I grew up, it was all lightsabers, all the time. Mostly it was Obi-Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader, until we started making up our own Darths, our own truncated Jedi names.

    But calling the "weirdo" player "gonzo" is a very good summation. We always call it "monster mash."

  7. The whole spark to the first three films was this idea that anything could happen, that you were just seeing these tiny bits of this massive galaxy that was doing crazy awesome shit 24/7 just out of frame. Han Solo was part of that - he was doing his own thing out in space and he just happened to be yanked into this specific bit of this specific conflict.

    I suppose the lesson there is, never tell the players everything about your setting.

  8. 1: I remember being three years old, watching Star Wars, then going into my backyard, climbing up a tree and pretending I was flying the Millenium Falcon. Han was good at what he did, charming and had a cool car. Who wouldn't want that? Plus, he was a hero because when it came time to stand up and do something, he did instead of backing down and becoming another face in the crowd.

    2: Chewie was number two becasue he was just a solid guy. He was the best friend, they guy you'd want by your side if you got into trouble.

    3: I personally never understood the love for Boba Fett while I was growing up. He was a bad guy, you're not supposed to like the bad guys. Maybe people liked him because the armor looked cool and because we didn't know much about him. But as I got older I realized I could respect Boba Fett because he was smart. He thought like Solo, which was why he was able to catch Solo. Add in the fact he said very little and was all business and I could begin to understand the love. But in the end he's a bad guy.

  9. My childhood memory is that most of us wanted to be Luke Skywalker when we played "Star Wars" because he had a lightsaber. Boba Fett was cool because he had a jet pack.

  10. 1. Han is a self-made hero -- he gets by because he's quick-witted and skilled, not relying on any "outside Force" -- you could make a broad parallel with a character with shitty, 3D6 in-order stats, versus a character with great stats to Han and the Force-aided Luke. Han has earned his place as a hero in the galaxy through quick thinking and good judgement whereas Luke is the Hero of Destiny who can't help having the DM change all his rolls to 20s and the enemies rolls to 1.

    2. Chewbacca saved the galaxy too, Mr. Yu. And he didn't even get a medal at the end of the first movie. Which I think is kind of why he's so popular -- can't be understood except by two other members of the party, outsize physically, with the strength that comes with it and he's human enough to be relatable while still being alien, the outsider who doesn't get the credit he deserves. Plus he did decide to let Han put the cuffs on him even though he really didn't want to. That was good role-playing.

    3. Boba Fett is the other side of the Han Solo coin, somebody who's built up a body of skills and a reputation, only by taking down people like Solo. I guess how he relates to Chewie is that nobody sees under his mask and thus he maintains an air of personal separation. What I think gets forgotten with Fett is that he's obviously got this impressive network of connections -- this is a guy who can casually saunter into Jabba's palace and the bridge of a Super Star Destroyer and talk to a Hutt lord and Vader from the position of at least a near-equal.

  11. Am I the only one who liked Lando more than either Han or Bobba?

    He had his own thing going on, was doing well, then his asshole friend shows up with the law on his tail and makes his new girlfriend's problems Lando's problems.

    And while everyone is frolicking with teddy bears he is actually blowing up a death star with a used cargo freighter.

    Still not sure why he was wearing Han's clothes though (that's kinda creepy)

    Edit: Captcha word is "Billy", priceless.

  12. I'm starting to see the Boba thing now, vis. fannish attraction. Boba's life outside the trilogy is even less developed than Han's and consequently even more open for projection/exploration/identification/general fannishness.

    There's an element of that 'man with no name' thing going on - although Boba has a name, he doesn't (in the original trilogy) have a face or much else going on, just an implicit reputation: which, like Thomas M says, is a pretty good 'un.

  13. 3. It's interesting to look at the differences between Vader's interaction with Lando and with Fett. I'd peg Vader as Lawful Evil, so from his perspective Lando is a just another treacherous asshole. Fett is more like Brother Mouzone or Omar, so Vader treats him fairly. I always loved the scene in Empire when Fett stands up to Vader, and Vader reassures Fett that he'll be compensated if Solo dies.
    People like Fett for the same reason they like Mouzone, Omar, or Angel Eyes (good, bad, ugly).

  14. I think the weirdness Chewie worked because he was counterbalanced by the normalness of Han. Same with the worthlessness of C3P0 vs. the irreplaceable R2D2. The irritating or distracting character can be ignored if someone better is available to watch at the same time or soon after. I personally think this is why I hated Ep. 1 so much, because nobody balanced that irritating little pod-racing bastard. Felt like I was watching Home Alone In Space.