Star Wars is a reflection of George Lucas’ most vulnerable insecurities, and with that, we see our own. This is the reason why it transcends the limitations of science fiction, of fantasy, or westerns, of whatever genre you classify it under and goes beyond the mundane and into the divine. When watching these films, one can so easily be drawn into powerful emotions and primal terrors that permeate the human psyche. So, too, should your Star Wars roleplaying games.
In this way of thinking of the series, the Star Wars universe serves only as a clever, sugar-coated shell surrounding bitter truths. This is a hallmark of excellent storytelling. These movies are so good because they appeal to our deep seated concerns in a non-literal fashion. We know, instinctively, the importance of the story we are seeing, though perhaps we may not realize why. The glitz and glamour of the constructed Star Wars universe occupies our immediate focus, drawing the viewer into a fantasy world so that ideas from which we have strong emotions may be more easily confronted. Growing up and while still in film school, George Lucas was known to have had conflicts with his father over his future career path. His father was an office supply salesman and wanted young George to follow in his footsteps. To Lucas the Junior, living in the social unrest of the 1960’s, this represented an oppressive, soulless path towards unhappiness, tedium, and self-loathing; all in the name of the needs of society. He was an energetic young man eager to carve his own life out of the world, ready to take on the whole Empire himself. Blow this somewhat dramatic reaction up a thousand fold and make it larger than life on the silver screen. In short order, we have found Darth Vader’s plea to Luke, “Join me”, and young Skywalker’s utter rejection of such a life.
So, too, should your Star Wars roleplaying games. I encourage you to get into the meta of yourself and ferret out your buried fears and insecurities. Find something painful in your life, something controversial, something that you are uncomfortable facing alone. Apply a thick layer of fantasy on top of that to make it easy to swallow. Here is a list of great examples from just the original film of what I’m talking about. Use it as a seed to grow your roleplaying games into something more profound.
- I don’t know my parents, thus I can never know myself
- I am frustrated by my unfulfilled potential for great deeds
- I have lost far too much family
- I have lost much of my humanity and spirit through industrialization
- My identity is my career, my career is my identity
- I hate society, but am not sure why
- I have little power or wealth in this society
- The Big City is dirty and evil
- Without religion & spirituality, I am doomed to nihilism & despair