Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The SUE Files: Succession

All right. It looks like we’re not going to be able to get our missing writer back, so it falls to us to pick apart what the heck happened during the interim period between when I left the campaign and when I started hanging out with the actual players at the request of the DM. Since these are so fragmented, I’m going to blow through the points I can elaborate on; I’ll try to indicate elapsed times when I can, but for the most part these are just events.
So here’s the short version of Marty Stu’s rise to power: it starts with “politely” asking Emperor Palpatine for the Empire—and getting it after five minutes’ conversation. The central tenet of his argument was, to judge from the emergency speech the Emperor gave announcing the immediate transfer of power, that he’s clearly a much better person than Palpy so he “deserves” the empire.
The logistics of this are immensely amusing to me. He put this event in his timeline around Return of the Jedi, so he’s simply walking into the tower of the Second Death Star and the Emperor is so “intrigued by his audacity” that he waves off the Royal Guards—because clearly a sense of self-preservation is not a prerequisite for running a galaxy-spanning polity with an iron fist. Genre savvy? What’s that? At any rate, Marty points out that Palpatine is a speciesist and this means he’s dismissing potentially useful officers. This revelation has him running to the nearest communications terminal to ad-lib the formal transfer of power over the Galactic Empire to a total stranger. The whole process takes less time than the speech itself.
And it works flawlessly. Now, I admittedly don’t know everything I should about Star Wars, but I’m fairly sure the protocol for succession, if there even is one, is a bit more complicated than just saying “obey him as you would me” and changing the name on the office door. It seems like the kind of thing you might want to call a meeting about, for example, just to defray suspicion that someone had stolen the Emperor’s cell holophone and was having a laugh. It might also be a good idea to talk the new Emperor over the mechanics of running a very centralized Empire—especially when many elements under his direct control, like the Emperor’s Hands, depend on Force sensitivity the new guy does not possess. That, however, would take too long; Palpatine simply throws Marty the keys to the Death Star, hops in a shuttle, and happily retires. Total elapsed time is somewhere around ten minutes.
Even weirder, everyone just goes along with it. Given the type of person serving in the upper echelons of the Imperial Navy, I have to think they’d react to news this sudden rather differently. Less “oh goody, new management” and more “welp, the Emperor’s gone full-on Caligula. How much of the Empire can I grab?” It happened after Endor, did it not?
According to the GM, no it did not. You see, our GM has always had a tumultuous relationship with the idea of canonicity. For most works, he rules like this: if it’s not part of the show in the format of the show, whatever the show might be, it’s not canon. Star Trek’s canon is exclusively the movies and the TV series, for example, and not any of the books. Star Wars is a special case: he allows Zahn’s Heir to the Empire series and everything else is not canon. Functionally, this means very little: later on, when I suggest to the players that they go grab some of the superweapons scattered around the ROTJ-era galaxy, the immediate and slightly frightened response from the GM will be “EU is not canon”…right before he starts gushing about Thrawn again.

(To be fair, this is my fault. You see, he had gotten into the habit of giving me unsolicited descriptions of the considerable body of RPG material he created alone in his dorm. One of them was an insectoid race with a bunch of varying phenotypes that bore an uncanny resemblance to the Killiks, and I made the mistake of pointing that out. His vehement if intermittent insistence that everything he writes is wholly original led him to decide that the Killiks were “not really part of Star Wars”, for whatever good that was supposed to do him, and that snowballed into a small part of his present madness. It was only after this, for example, that he decided that any modifications to a video game by anyone other than the original publisher make it “not really the same game”, based on which he has insisted he’s the only one of us who’s ever really played the Elder Scrolls series. He’s also decided that modding itself is a form of plagiarism, somehow, although that’s nothing compared to the vitriol he reserves for indie devs and “their toxic effect on the sales of real [AAA] games”. )
That’s the closest explanation I’ve ever gotten from him on the matter of canonicity: it’s not what’s written, it’s the net worth of the writer. This will come up repeatedly in future setting hops, especially where WH40k is concerned: he’ll use The Black Library’s licensing mechanics to deny the remaining players access to Lord Castellan Creed, for one.
But in the present, the players are watching the speech in which control of the Galactic Empire is ceded to a total unknown, followed by the departure of the Imperial Fleet through inter-universe portals to conquer foreign lands. The whole fleet. Fans of the EU (I used to be; I kinda got tired of it, but I recall much useless data) might recall that the Navy’s critically shorthanded for most of the war, trying keep about a million old tensions from flaring back up into two- and three-system wars against a backdrop of piracy. This is of course lost on Marty, who apparently thinks the whole fleet sits around playing lawn darts with Star Destroyers when they aren’t invading Hoth.
Admittedly, he does explicitly leave behind all the support and logistical vessels that don’t have nice big guns on them so he can move their crews onto more Star Destroyers. This, too, will be a fixture of this “war”: military hardware, regardless of era, will effortlessly maintain itself against anything but deliberate enemy action. If, say, an aircraft carrier holds fifty aircraft, all fifty of them can be endlessly deployed simultaneously for as long as possible, because all you need to do is land them, refuel them, rearm them, and relaunch them, right? Not only that, it can do all that with a fraction of its crew complement, because it is itself a magical self-repairing wonder. The GM’s military is essentially a very efficient reactor: it takes in bullets and fuel, and only bullets and fuel, and spits out victory. The concept of regular wear and tear has never sunk in with him, nor the idea that a two-kilometer ship exposed to the vacuum of space will essentially be halfway broken all the time, which is why it needs a small army of engineers. No, in the GM’s world, the entire manufacturing capacity of the galaxy can be switched over to brand-new Eclipse-class SSDs with no real problems, because Marty wants his big guns. I mention this because one of the remaining players was a bit of a military nut, and would attempt a preemptive strike against the Navy’s supply lines only to be told “what supply lines? You haven’t fought them yet so they don’t need refills.” Followed shortly by  “what spare parts?” Ladies and gentlemen, Marty Tzu!
So that’s the start of the war: Marty takes over his favorite setting by asking nicely and fires its navy across the cosmos to murder everything. Next time, I can get into the mechanics of the war, which provides a handy explanation for why it’s his favorite.


  1. Hang on-- The Imperial Navy was sent through a series of extra dimensional portals... The whole Imperial Navy? Like all of it? Oh... Kay... I seem to remember something about a Rebel Alliance, one that has a fleet of warships... I think they were fighting the Galactic Empire too... maybe I'm remembering it wrong. Or maybe Marty considers the Rebel Alliance to be EU?
    Sarcasm aside, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself and there is an explanation for that too and I'll be it's a gem.

    1. You are kindof, but its a minor point, having watched the movies and therefore basically metagaming (but apparently not metagaming since 'its perfectly reasonable in character for the sue to know this') he uses his knowledge from the movies to basically catch all of the rebels (without fail) since their actions are set in stone, and they wouldn't attempt to make an impossible escape from him, or miraculously evade capture etc.

      tldr: rebel alliance was beaten and forgotten.

    2. At least he'll be on the Death Star when it blows up. I mean, he explicitly said that canon happens no matter what, so that superweapon is gonna go kaboom even if the rebels are all captured.

      In addition, all the rebels? All the rebels. Right, because we see all of them in the movies. *eyeroll*

  2. He’s also decided that modding itself is a form of plagiarism,

    ...Says the guy whose system is based on ripping off parts of fictional works by vastly better writers... 9_9

    And if he ignores logistics this much in strategy games, I can see why he keeps getting stomped in them.

    1. to be fair, he doesn't say its plagiarism, but he heavily implied use of mods on skyrim (I am a PC gamer) makes the game not the original skyrim, which while technically true(in some cases, although aesthetic changes not so much), was said in a way that implied it was inferior.

      He also doesn't play strategy games last I checked. And he never claims that the Ao-sue interference is the original work or cannon.

    2. He didn't tell YOU it's plagiarism, maybe.

      And he plays strategy games all the time, just single-player now. With the AI disabled.

  3. Dear lord, the comment alone about indie devs would be enough to make me want to hit him if there wasn't anything else... but then you pile everything else on...

    (hi aspiring indie game dev here)

    1. (Hi. Big Indie game fan here.)

      *Hands you a baseball bat* Go hog-wild, buddy.

  4. He's got a point about those Indie Dev parasites ....

    Nah, just kidding. The FAIL is strong in this one and for me it's the total lack of knowledge and understanding about logistics, supply, replair and secondline operations. These things annoy me often enough in good games, to be honest (I usually get past it, though) but in a 'setting' where his changes explicitly rely on totally ignoring the effects these issues would have ... yeah, I'd get pretty angry at the stupid.

  5. The elder scrolls were one of his worlds? The elder scrolls which contain in the canon: All possible results of our previous games are canon? That should make his system implode already. :)

    Little nitpicking, according to some source material of star wars the emperor also had special force powers that enhanced his troops in battle. So, all those military units, all those stormtroopers are even worse without the emperor guiding them. (I have no idea what the force power was called. But I think somebody in the future will probably list it).

    The emperor gives up his empire after a speech? Seems Marty has Galt like powers. Guess the DM was also a randroid. (Long rambling speeches, thinking they know how stuff works while they don't (physics, supply, economics etc), hating specific types of entrepreneurs as inherently bad, megalomaniac streak. Sounds like a randroid).

    1. Battle Meditation, probably. Functionally anyways. Lord knows it probably had some fancier Sith name.

      Now. Normally that would be EU -but- he's accepting the Thrawn trilogy. I can't remember if the Emperor's abilities are implied specifically (I think Mara or Thrawn mention it) but Jorus definitely displays a similar power on at least one occasion.

      And that's just what I remember.

    2. It's stated explicitly that the Imperial armed forces were dependent on the Emperor's Battle Meditation.