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Roleplaying Guide: Being Sith

 

Nezumi's Avatar


Nezumi
07.01.2013 , 05:26 PM
Greetings everyone. Some of you may know me, some of you don't due to my limited playtime and recent inactivity Sith Side. But I'm Darth Vexos, and since launch I've played a Sith Lord, ultimately leading my own guild The Collective.

Over the past year and a half I've gotten repeated compliments about how well I roleplay a Sith, and how my character maintains an aura of power without steamrolling everyone elses RP.
So I wrote a guide detailing my insight on how to roleplay the perfect Sith. I've used my understanding of the Sith and Star Wars in general to enhance my roleplay and immerse people in the universe, and now hopefully you can too without breaking canon, or character.


The Sith
Understanding what it means to be a Sith

To appropriately get into the mindset of roleplaying a Sith, there are several things you need to consider in both preparation to make the character and in the everyday task of roleplaying the character believably.

You must set aside your morality
When playing a Sith in the era of TOR, you have to consider and come to terms with one key fact: their entire society, down to the foundations of their morality and their beliefs, are hugely different to you and what you were raised with. To expand on this weíll take the basic concepts of both the Republic and the Empire and try to explain them.

The Republic is the longest standing galactic society since the Rakatan Empire, which existed over 25 thousand years ago. Chief among all their beliefs is that freedom and justice reign supreme; their closest real world mirror would be the United States. Senators from different regions of the Republicís territories convene in a central place to discuss and pass legislation for the people and for the governments of their represented planets. In place of a President, the Republic has a Supreme Chancellor, which is a super senator that rules over the senate and acts as the mediator for discussions. The Supreme Chancellor must be elected by the senate and his actions are restricted by legislation from the senate. However, in times of war or extreme circumstances, he can be granted authority to override the Senate and pass laws and edicts without the bureaucratic red tape of the Senate (as seen by Palpatine in Attack of the Clones).

Itís because of all these similarities that many people find it easier to play a Republic character, or unintentionally play an Imperial character incorrectly. The archetypal roles within the Republic paint you as a kind-hearted, noble defender of the Republic, who will do whatever it takes to defend it against the Empire and whatever other threats might arise. People often play the strict and disciplined trooper, who either follows the chain of command or follows the stereotype of 80′s action flicks, disobeying direct orders to do what their morality tells them is right. Another role that attracts a lot of people is the Jedi, the unwavering defenders of the Republic. The light side of the Force is on their side, and they are vanguards against evil and darkness. Many people try to play this role, but like the Empire in general, they usually do it incorrectly.

For instance, back in SWG, many people roleplayed Jedi. However, there was a rare 1 in 20 who played them as one would believe, as a noble and light-sided soul. Instead of adhering to what canon established Jedi to be, especially on the Starsider server where I experienced all of my RP, you would often find Jedi who would resort to killing before disarming, offer death threats for harming their loved ones or lovers. They would resort to flatout torture to get the information they wanted. This could be acceptable if they were playing renegade or ďgreyĒ Jedi, but the vast majority simply played Jedi without understanding them at all and sat closer to the darkside or even the grey side than they would ever admit.

All of this brings us back to the focus of the topic, if you can believe it.

The Sith Empire

The foundations of the Sith Empire stretch back centuries wrought in traditions such as a caste society and a value of strength over weakness. It was the inevitable meeting of exiled Dark Jedi and the ancient Sith race that brought about one of the most powerful societies and belief systems to enter the galaxy in the history of the Republic.

The Sith are the arch nemesis of the Jedi. Armed with the dark side of the Force, they terrorize the battlefield with frightening displays of strength and brutality many would find morally abhorrent. However, in their eyes, their actions are not depravity but power and might. Their mindset can be put into perspective by analyzing their entire society. If youíve ever studied sociology, this may be easier for you to grasp.

The Sith, at their core, are morally the Republicís polar opposite. The weak are subjugated, not protected, and many are enslaved or born into slavery regardless of their origins. On top of that, one single council of twelve and three ministries govern the entirety of their society with no pretense of democracy.

All of these factors are what make Sith the hardest to play in terms of believability and realism. Lots of roleplayers assume theyíre doing just fine, when in reality theyíre far off the mark of what an ideal canon Sith should be.

To understand what it means to be a Sith or an Imperial, you need to set aside your own morals to examine the mindset of what the Empire is at its core. The Empire has favored the strong over the weak since its very inception. Its society was broken into several incredibly strict castes. It was unheard of for someone to transition from one to the other; a slave was a slave, a priest was a priest, and so on.

When the Sith were defeated in the Great Hyperspace War and the Empire was founded, these strict castes gradually lessened as their society transitioned to the Empire we know today, but the basics of original Sith society were maintained throughout the millenniums. Strength over weakness, victory or death, loyalty to the Empire over oneself, respect of all Sith. In addition, the knowledge that in the Empire, the Sith are always superior to those who canít use the Force, which many non-Sith Imperial roleplayers toss aside, which in and of itself is immersion breaking. Itís a notion that clashes most obviously with people simply because no one wants to be beneath someone. No one wants to be the person that bows to someone simply because of what they are and not based on some achievement or material thing they can place value to. But regardless of the psychological aspect, it is merely a fact that a Sith in Imperial society will be valued over an Imperial officer, agent, mercenary of civilian every time.

To play a Sith, you need to cast aside any view that the sith are Ďevilí. Evil is a subjective term applied to any person, place or thing that a society views as wrong or morally unjust. In the case of the Republic, they view the Empire as evil. Within the Empire however, their behavior and their very society is normal and accepted. They have their own laws, and their own justice system. They have civilians, they have ordinary soldiers, and they have among their number what are at their core kind-hearted people who fight because they are patriotic and because they love their Empire, not because they value death and destruction. Just because a person is born into an oppressive society does not make them Ďevilí by default.

Conquest and war are central themes in the Empire, and it is what their entire society is based around. It is required for citizens, when reaching age 18, to enlist and contribute to the Imperial war machine. Children are raised with the values of every Imperial: glory to the Sith, glory to the Empire, fight until the last breath. That doesnít make them evil, it simply makes them different from citizens of the Republic.

Yet all of this is something that people frequently overlook. People commonly play unrealistic versions of Sith and Imperials. You have Darths and Lords who go to bars to hang around and flirt, joke with lessers, and engage in bar fights, when really they should be doing something--if youíll excuse the slang--Sithy. The problem is many people donít know what to do beyond what theyíve already known, i.e. cantina/tavern RP. There is an entire myriad of things to roleplay as a Sith that can be just as fulfilling as that social RP.

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia provides a lot of valuable information about the era, and more importantly, insight into the Sith and the Empire within it. Itís a must have for anyone wishing to perfect their character and give them backstory fluff to make them a more believable character of the era.

The exact mindset behind a Sith is difficult to explain, as it encompases more than just anger, hatred, and power; there is more to their society than the simplest of emotions. On top of this, every Sith has a different personality, even Lords and Darths. Their values, what drives them, and what they swear by is as varied as citizens of the Republic.

As a whole, they value knowledge, power, and history. Some fight to prolong their own life by any means necessary, while others are more than willing to die for the Empire; some selfishly place themselves before the Empire, while others place the Empire before themselves in all matters. Some are fearsome and unstoppable in combat, while others are physically weak yet managed to climb their way to the Dark Council through cunning alone. These differences are no more evident than in TORís Sith class stories. Darth Jadus favors the non-Force sensitives in Imperial Intelligence, Darth Baras employs a vast spy network of his own that are comprised of Sith and non-Sith alike, Darth Malgus believes that aliens are as valuable to the Empire as the pureblooded Sith of old, and so on.

The point is, you can still make a very individual character and have them be a believable Sith by canon standards, so long as you adhere to the basic framework of what it means to be a Sith in this era.

Additional Tips

A Sith is not a cantina fly.
There are Sith who enjoy a good cantina, and there are even high-class, snooty parties that some Sith attend (such as in the Inquisitor storyline). But these facts by no means indicate that Sith spend the majority of their time, or even hours of their time, in Cantinas chatting it up with mercenaries, bounty hunters, and the average space-Joe. Sith have ambition, goals, and duties they must maintain, not to mention a political image to portray to other Sith to keep themselves from seeming an easy target.

You can easily work these facets into your character. What does your Sith do for the Empire besides expanding their own power base and advancing their own goals? Are they a researcher who searches for artifacts? Is their passion war and they train other Sith, or do they do something else entirely? The easiest way to make your character believable is to just sit back and ask what your character is at its core and simply work from there.

Establish what Pyramid of Influence your character belongs to.
In the entire Empire there are twelve Pyramids, or Spheres, of Influence that all Sith belong to from the time they leave the academy to the day they die. This isnít something a Sith is assigned to like a homeroom in school; what Pyramid you represent is dictated by what Pyramid your master is in. All of these Pyramids have tiers. At the top of this Pyramid is a Dark Council member. Below him is another Darth (or several Darths), each responsible for others beneath them, much as how Darth Zash answers to Darth Thanaton in the Inquisitor storyline. This Darth oversees the activities and actions of other Darths within the pyramid and so on and so forth.

Even Darths can still have a master.
Congratulations, youíre a Darth and at the proverbial top of the food chain. But not really. Youíve been made a Darth but that doesnít mean you donít answer to a superior. As expressed in the point above, every Darth still answers to someone, even if itís the Dark Council member in charge of your Pyramid of Influence themselves. A Darth has ascended to their rank through their own merits or political influence. Even when the title of Lord is bestowed upon you by your master, you would continue to serve them, just as your master would serve their own master or superior all the way up to the Dark Council. There are situations where you advance by killing your master, which is still common place, albeit publicly frowned upon. Advancing beyond Lord requires either your direct superiorís death, or an act impressive enough that youíre granted it for your competence and achievement.





Conclusion
There's no denying that in a galaxy as expansive as this one, there's not a standard mold you'll find a Sith or any character in. Generally, people fall into certain archetypes, or even stereotypes based upon what their chosen character is. For instance, a standard archetype of a Republic Trooper is a stalwart defender of the Republic; s/he follows protocol to the T, is a loyal soldier, and would do anything for the Republic. You're probably thinking of someone now who sounds just like that. But that's where we as creative writers and RPers take the concept and mold it into something unique and personalized. You have the above trooper, but your trooper has dark secrets, questionable morales, even some form of PTSD from past deeds. Something to make them unique and personal to you.

The same applies to Sith. Though the above tips are aimed at helping you develop a believable character, you are at liberty from there to develop whatever personality pops into your head. Sith can be cruel. Sith can be forgiving. Some Sith will act based upon emotion while others prefer to use logic and sound judgement outside of battle, and only let their passions fuel their rage on the battlefield.

Long winded, yes--but true.

TLDR: I try with these posts to educate the inexperienced and provide substance where all you have is the outline. Here we've tried to understand and explain just what a Sith IS, and hopefully the result is that you can then take these tips and apply them to your own Sith character--to not only improve your believability as a character immersed in this world, but to improve the experience of everyone else around you and aid to their immersion on top of your own.

In closing, you of course donít have to follow any of these tips if you don't want to. Everyone has a different idea of what a Sith is or what a Sith is capable of, and they in turn apply that to their roleplay. Some people think Sith are just people who have fun by running around licking people, jumping on each otherís backs and generally acting like children. Others believe Sith are a serious and vindictive people who fight, or die fighting (including each other). And, of course, there are shades of grey in between both extremes.

Whatever your view happens to be, I hope you've enjoyed reading, and I hope your experience is a little richer now because of it.

Thanks for reading,

Vexos
Wrath of Korriban
Vexos
Tyber
Securis
Dageus
Vaedrion

TylerAcalan's Avatar


TylerAcalan
07.02.2013 , 02:11 PM
Quote: Originally Posted by Nezumi View Post
Some people think Sith are just people who have fun by running around licking people, jumping on each otherís backs and generally acting like children.
XD

You've been watching Kyinaye running around causing trouble haven't you?

I applaud this effort to educate the masses. Very well written and definitely worth the read. The fact we have to write in a TL;DR is a very sad affair because this topic doesn't deserve such a section and people should actually read the whole thing. It makes me look back on my character and consider the personalities of those I've run across.

Honestly no one can create a perfect canon Sith except the original creator Lucas himself because he wrote the book on it. But what I see here would allow a very believable Sith when used as a whole by identifying sections people tend to miss. Kudos to you and your research.

legolegion's Avatar


legolegion
07.02.2013 , 02:55 PM
I try thing of sith empire simlair to that of the roman empire

TriggerBlade's Avatar


TriggerBlade
07.03.2013 , 05:12 AM
Quote: Originally Posted by legolegion View Post
I try thing of sith empire simlair to that of the roman empire
Public orgies and all.

BilmiShywat's Avatar


BilmiShywat
07.03.2013 , 02:47 PM
Thank you for this write up.

legolegion's Avatar


legolegion
07.03.2013 , 03:02 PM
Quote: Originally Posted by TriggerBlade View Post
Public orgies and all.
never thought about that bit, more along lines of families personal pwerbases. Military commander not apointed on skill or merit but on political level. A centralised power base of roman emporer, and the senate who deal with dailiy buisness of running the empire (the dark council). Romans where also elistist, you had to earn citizenship if you where not born roman. Also had slaves to do meanial work, but did not see what wrong with that. As well as roman military might, they where good engineers and highly productive. This bit is also like the sith as they had only small base to start with, after hyperspace war yet manged to rebuild into superpower.

TriggerBlade's Avatar


TriggerBlade
07.03.2013 , 04:38 PM
Quote: Originally Posted by legolegion View Post
never thought about that bit, more along lines of families personal pwerbases. Military commander not apointed on skill or merit but on political level. A centralised power base of roman emporer, and the senate who deal with dailiy buisness of running the empire (the dark council). Romans where also elistist, you had to earn citizenship if you where not born roman. Also had slaves to do meanial work, but did not see what wrong with that. As well as roman military might, they where good engineers and highly productive. This bit is also like the sith as they had only small base to start with, after hyperspace war yet manged to rebuild into superpower.
I know, but I was just remarking on the Sith who think they are good RPers by having orgies in the Nexus Room. That place is turning into Moonguard Goldshire.

legolegion's Avatar


legolegion
07.04.2013 , 03:45 PM
fair enough well their just weird

PLynkes's Avatar


PLynkes
07.16.2013 , 02:14 AM
Quote: Originally Posted by TylerAcalan View Post
Honestly no one can create a perfect canon Sith except the original creator Lucas himself because he wrote the book on it. .
If that's true then no one can, because he sucks at it, big time.

TylerAcalan's Avatar


TylerAcalan
07.16.2013 , 06:32 PM
Quote: Originally Posted by PLynkes View Post
If that's true then no one can, because he sucks at it, big time.
And yet everyone is expected to follow the rules laid out by his original work yes? Then the fact he sucks is your personal opinion. However he still wrote the guidelines you're expected to adhere to.