I talked a bit yesterday about how I didn’t want to just bash on the Jedi Consular story without commenting on what I would have done differently. I’m loathe to critique something if I don’t have a better suggestion, and so I want to follow up with how I would have approached the Consular story, and why.
To get to what I would change, I want to talk a bit about why the Consular story doesn’t work, because the writing in it isn’t bad. There are some great moments, and when the Consular story has good moments, they’re very memorable. The biggest flaw with the Consular in my opinion is that the image the story is going for– the wise, diplomatic healer– does not translate well into gameplay, so there’s this automatic disconnect between the story concept and the structure of the game it’s in. It means that the good writing (and there is good writing in the Consular story) is scattered and doesn’t form a coherent whole. It’s a lot of justifications to get to the interesting moments, which are good, but feel too few and far between.
Why This Doesn’t Work, and What Does Work
The concept of the Consulars that appear elsewhere in Star Wars mostly comes from Yoda, who does a lot of sitting around talking and precious little actual action. It’s not conducive to a game, at least not one where the core mechanics are centered around traveling around and fighting. The “healer” side of things is a bit more compelling, because going around and healing people is pretty reasonable, but the urge to go more character-driven means you fall into a pattern of chasing people around and then finally doing some healing at the end. The same is sort of true of the diplomacy part– you’re really going out and doing favors so that you can do a bit of diplomacy at the end. It makes the majority of your time feel tacked-on, because the real ‘meat’ of what you’re supposed to be doing is the healing or the diplomacy or the being wise, which isn’t sustainable and so is doled out in small pieces.
There’s also the problem that the Jedi Knight steals a LOT of thunder from the Consular. The Consular is at its best when it’s doing things that the Knight isn’t, which is why the Consular Act 2 is the most conceptually compelling chapter, because it’s dealing with galactic diplomacy, which the Knight doesn’t even touch. A lot of the other stuff the Consular does, the Knight ALSO gets to do, while doing other, cooler stuff as well.
From the story, it feels like the Consular is going for a more cerebral kind of story than the Jedi Knight’s lightsabers-and-heroics story, and is trying to showcase different aspects of what Jedi powers do. I think this is great, and it’s both fitting for the Consular and compelling as a story. The other thing that the Consular story pushes that the Knight story doesn’t really bother with is the role of the Jedi in the Republic. You get a bit of that with the diplomacy side of things, and again, this is why Act 2 is the strongest in concept.
I think it’s possible to retain a lot of the structure of the Consular story as well as the overall themes and ideas it seems to be going for in a way that would separate it further from the Jedi Knight and make it its own awesome thing.
What I Want out of Consular
So, I want a story that ties the Republic in with the Jedi more. I want it to feel significantly different from the Jedi Knight, and I want it to be more cerebral while still touching on the more mystical side of the Jedi. I want more memorable companions, and I want my gameplay actions to cleave a bit closer to the concept I’m after. I also want the mysticism to be more of an active part of the story, rather than a justification or macguffin.
There’s a part of the Republic that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the various storylines, that I think we could work a bit more with: the Strategic Intelligence Service (SIS), the Republic’s spy agency. Neat characters, neat opportunities for cool moments, and mostly don’t show up in the other class stories (except Agent). Speaking of Agent, it’s a story theme (cloak-and-dagger spies) that doesn’t show up in the Republic-side classes pretty much at all.
You may see where I’m going with this.
Consular 2.0 (draft)
The Jedi Knight is a story about heroics and loud, blatant awesomeness. We want the Consular to feel different from that, and being more subtle and cerebral gives us a nice departure. We can emphasize that by pulling in the SIS, and adding a touch of an “intelligence/black ops agent” feel to the class. We run the risk of having a “dark” Consular story, but that works in this case, I think, since the point is to be more subtle and clever.
Here’s the basic pitch: the Jedi Consular is a Seer, able to have clear visions through the Force, and uses that power to help the Jedi and the Republic on missions that would never have been possible without a Seer’s farsight and impossible knowledge. It’s a story about being one step ahead of your enemies, and helping people who would have gone unsaved but for your mystical foresight. You don’t just have visions through the Force, you act on them.
I’ll go act by act.
Prologue – Tython
Not a lot has to change here, I don’t think. I would drop a moment extremely early on where you have a vision of your ultimate enemy, and have the other Jedi argue your visions only to have you be proven right. It gives you the opportunity to attach to your Master, who believes your visions, and an early sense of your power. I’d also have the Twi’lek you face have gotten his information from somewhere else, a manipulator from the shadows. Otherwise, you complete your training and finish Tython as a full Jedi. Rather than introducing Qyzen Fess here, I would introduce your ranged tank, the Twi’lek you face at the end who joins you both because his village cast him out and because he wants revenge on the puppetmaster pulling his strings. We can keep Qyzen as a melee tank later, when he makes more sense and isn’t a weird adjunct to the story. This is also a much more interesting use of Zenith, who can be a more complex character who’s both bitter about the plight of his people and his exile but excited to be seeing the galaxy.
Act 1 – Healer of Worlds
Reports of criminal groups on Coruscant fencing stolen Jedi relics concerns the Jedi Council, and you’re dispatched to Coruscant to find out what’s going on. It’s a problem, but the more established Jedi are busy elsewhere and this is a good use of a junior Jedi, as well as a good opportunity to work with the Republic. You’re assisted by an SIS agent who’s providing intel, and you wind up working through the Coruscant underbelly tracking down these relics and using your Force visions to guide your way. You wind up facing down a Sith Lord’s apprentice who’s ransacking the Jedi Temple and was using the criminal organizations to smuggle certain relics offworld. In places of deep sadness or trauma, the Force can become dark and be a font of power if left unchecked. By recovering the relics and ousting the Sith, you can ‘heal’ the wound at the Jedi Temple and purify it.
The pattern will be similar to what happened on Tython, and your companion will be able to comment that he was supposed to stir up pain and conflict as well, to generate this kind of power.
You have a vision of other places of power, at which point, with the help of the Jedi Council and the SIS, you’re off to find out what this Sith Lord is up to and stop him/her. The four planets that are a part of the Republic Act 1 work nicely for this– Taris has obvious “tragic event” overtones, Nar Shaddaa is a great place to engineer a tragedy, and longstanding suffering is common there, Tattooine is somewhat similar to Nar Shaddaa (and has some hints at serious tragedy surrounding the Sand People), and Alderaan is a historied planet with a ton of longstanding bad blood.
These are all ripe for both existing or upcoming tragedies, and while the overall theme of healing a wounded place and restoring balance is maintained, the ways in which you do that can vary pretty wildly from planet to planet. On Coruscant, you might restore parts of the Jedi Temple and recover important relics. On Taris, you can heal sick people and stop a madman from spreading the rakghoul plague. On Nar Shaddaa, you can restore and fortify an organization that aids and protects people from gangs and slavers. On Tattooine, you can delve deep into Sand People history and restore lost knowledge to a wandering people. On Alderaan, you can take part in a diplomatic summit and put a stop to the bloodshed and strife on the planet. In all cases, you’re doing some mystical, some mundane things to heal these ‘wounded’ planets in your own way, opposed by a Sith at each step of the way.
There’s a great opportunity here to solve these problems BEFORE the Sith even arrives, because you have awesome Force visionary powers. It lets the Big Bad show up at the end, but gives you a sense of proactive cleverness that you don’t get in other stories. You’re prepared, because you can glimpse the future, and your Sith opponents can be very surprised to find you already stopping their plans.
By managing to be a step ahead of the shadowy Sith Lord’s plans, she’ll make things personal, and make a point of calling you out. There’s a great opportunity here for a sequence in which you make your way through a heavily booby-trapped area, with your visions guiding you past the traps, and calmly walking through the traps and facing off against a Sith Lord would be great. I would also make THIS character a companion, who joins you when you show her that your power, despite not being borne of the dark side, is vastly beyond hers. Rather than using ‘wounded’ planets as a font for more power, she’ll join you and learn where you get your power from. This also gives you a chance to redeem her or not, depending on your alignment, giving a nice analogue to the Sith Warrior story and separating the Consular yet further from the Jedi Knight.
Act 2 – Light from the Shadows
At this point, you’ve got something of a reputation for being in the right place at the right time, and the SIS wants you for some extremely difficult black ops missions. You’re able to get intel that they can’t through the Force, and you can help solidify the Rift Alliance by pulling off these missions. It’s a very similar structure to the existing Act 2, but it’s more focused around clandestine humanitarian operations rather than taking orders from politicians. Absolutely have an SIS agent as a companion somewhere in here.
As a finale, we have a confrontation with an Imperial warship who’s trying to strongarm the Rift Alliance and is using a brother-sister pair of Inquisitors, both members of the Dark Council, to outmaneuver you and convince the diplomats to join them. This is aided by their influence over one of the politicians, who is being manipulated with Force Persuasion and poisoning the other politicians against the Republic. You slip aboard the warship and collect information to discredit them and disrupt their mind control, then present it and send them packing, though not without a fight. You manage to escape with the siblings vowing revenge.
Act 3 – Dark Rivals
As a proven diplomat and healer, you are now assigned to the most sensitive diplomatic missions possible, both trying to undermine Sith control of planets and establish Republic holds. This puts you on Belsavis, where Imperial agents are trying to use the secret prison planet as a massive propaganda campaign against the Republic, where once again you face the siblings working to undermine you. You discover that the siblings, together, also have future-sight powers and limited mind control, and that you can’t stay one step ahead of them. You follow up on Voss, where they’re trying to brutally undermine negotiations with the Voss and you have to prove the validity of your visions versus the siblings’, which impresses the Voss, who value their own seers.
The pair then changes tactics, using their own visions to hunt down Jedi on Corellia and cripple the offensive. You need to meet them where they’re going to get hit, slowly gaining ground until you can hit them at their base. This proves to be a ruse, and they’ve attacked your own ship and your crew. You have to retake your ship, fending off your own crewmembers who are being controlled. However, before you manage to retake the ship, the siblings steal a crucial piece of information: the location of the Republic Fleet, and are racing to bring warships for a surprise attack.
In the Act 3 finale, you fend off an Imperial assault against the unprepared Republic Fleet, rallying troops throughout the Fleet area and preparing for the conflict. With many Jedi and warships on a “secret mission” (which is happening in parallel during the Jedi Knight story), the fleet is vulnerable. You prepare the defense, then fend off the twins and bring them both down on the bridge of their own vessel. Defeated, they call on the Dark Council for aid, but the Dark Council shuns them for their failure. You are a hero of the Republic, and a defender of the people in a way that the Jedi Knight isn’t.
This is obviously a draft, but it’s the kind of structure that I think addresses a lot of the issues with the Consular story while giving it its own theme and maintaining the general concepts it’s going for. It’s a story that makes equal sense for both Sage and Shadow, and where your actions are tied into the story a lot more closely. Having Force Visions is a neat, mystic-y concept but actually acting on them is satisfying. There’s a possibility for this type of Consular story to make you feel smarter then your enemies and more proactive in general, and it leaves a lot of room for more interesting companions.
It’s also easy to make alterations based on which planets wind up being used. The overall concept for each Act doesn’t change much, and planets could be added or removed (say, during development) without the story being heavily impacted. It keeps a fairly episodic structure, much like the Agent story.