What if… the lava didn’t do it?

A few days ago I was reading an excellent blog article by Runeslinger on his blog Casting Shadows, you can find the original post here: https://runeslinger.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/recasting-canon-star-wars/

In this blog article he discusses how both he and his players have treated the canon in Star Wars, essentially they have taken the bits of the canon that they liked and have treated the bits they didn’t like as legends or distorted representations of what actually occurred, the blog article contains a list of established facts that exist within their storyline. I thought this was a great again and it prompted me to think about other things that might have been different to the established “facts”, I’ve decided to lump these posts under a category called “What if?”

These posts will effectively be short musings from me about how things could have been different in RPG backgrounds, stories, etc and how that might affect the present day of a game. For this post I’m going to be thinking about how Anakin Skywalker gained the deformities that lead to his requiring a life-sustaining suit when he became known as Darth Vader to the galaxy at large.

In the prequel trilogy we know that Anakin attempted to fight Obi-Wan on Mustafar as he began his fall to the dark side, during a lightsaber duel his legs were cut off by Obi-Wan and he then slid into a pool of lava, screaming his hatred of his old master. When Palpatine found him later, miraculously he was still alive but required the life-sustaining properties of his trademark black armour. One of the things that struck me about this when watcing the prequels was that it wasn’t particularly imaginative, I’d always expected there to be some massively emotive reason behind the twisted figure that Vader became, and whilst you could argue that if he hadn’t gone to the darkside then he wouldn’t have been so reckless as to attempt to vault Obi-Wan and thus wouldn’t have been injured, I’d always imagined that the reason for his physical ailments would reflect his conscious choice to embrace the darkside more.

We know that Palpatine himself was disfigured when his prolonge use of the force for evil ends was turned against him, so I’d like to propose the following alternative:


Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, believed to be the one to return balance to the force is tempted and lured to the darkside by the machinations of Darth Sidious and is commanded to help wipe out those in the Jedi temple on Coruscant, since Sidious/Palpatine knows that he will never be able to concentrate on running his future Empire with the Jedi as a thorn in his side. To this end he sends Skywalker with reinforcements to the temple where, instead of small groups of barely trained children, they are met by the Jedi defenders of the temple who prove to be stiff opposition. Sustaining some minor injuries during the fighting, the battle initially seems to have turned against Skywalker, with the Jedi pushing his troopers back. As it appears that good will triumph, Anakin sustains a severe blast bolt, the pain and knowledge that he might lose the battle, causes the proud young-Sith to full embrace the darkside drawing on all the power and techniques that Darth Sidious has been secretly tutoring him in.

When the smoke around the temple clears and Palpatine sends in reinforcements, everyone in the temple is dead, Anakin’s indiscriminate anger has caused him to kill everyone within reach, friend or foe, until eventually, exhausted, his body twisted by both his wounds and the darkside energies coursing through him Anakin collapses. Impressed by the sheer level of destructive power displayed, Palpatine has his guards carry Anakin away and fitting with a suit to sustain him despite his near mortal wounds, however, they cannot cure the mystic ailments that his overdose of darkside energies has caused, he will be forced to remain in the suit for the rest of his life.

Now this alternative might not be for everyone but I certainly think it would make the attack on the Jedi temple more dramatic and makes the man that Darth Vader becomes a direct result of Anakin embracing his fear, anger and all of the other arguably negative emotions that lead to the darkside.

8 thoughts on “What if… the lava didn’t do it?”

  1. Love it! I have been wrestling with the difficulty of finding a more personally believable motivation for Anakin to do some of the terrible things shown in the Prequels (if they actually happened at all), and this is a great answer for the most egregious of them~

    1. Glad you like the concept of the post, I have to admit the prequel rationale didn’t really work for me, nor did the idea that the only opposition they faced in the Jedi temple was a group of children. I very much enjoyed your original post and the idea of treating the stuff you didn’t like as a misremembered or distorted version of the truth, definitely something that I will be using in future Star Wars games πŸ™‚

    1. I wasn’t aware of it, but I certainly enjoyed watching it – thanks very much for pointing me in the right direction πŸ™‚ I may think about adopting these as the actual past in my own ‘Adventures in the Outer Rim’ πŸ™‚

      1. I’m really glad you enjoyed them, and am glad to help and spread the word. Especially since the main objection is structuring, which is very relevant for anyone playing an RPG.

        Slightly related, I’m also gushing about Every Frame a Painting channel as a movie lover and as someone who spends time thinking on how to represent and use the narrative in RPG. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFqcJQXGZ6T6sxyFB-5i6A

        1. I very much enjoyed watching the three videos in the series and have put a link to them on my own blog to encourage more people to give them a look – thanks for pointing me in the right direction πŸ™‚

  2. You mentioned early on that much of the canon is really legend and fiction. A sense of misrepresentation of the facts. That can work in nearly any rpg setting. If players feel secondary to the plot (Luke will do it. We don’t need to be here), framing the background in such a way as to give player agency and spotlight is agency excellent idea. Maybe everyone THINKS Luke took out the Deathstar. The PC’s are needed to perpetuate a rebel lie as propaganda.

    I still love the Inner Sea Guide from the Pathfinder Setting. But I don’t want to use any other splat-book information. I can tell any Grognard pc fan that what you know is legend any nd hearsay.

    Great topic

    1. Very much agree, in-fact going forward for my ‘Adventures on the Outer Rim’ series of games I’m going to be using the alternate past proposed in the Youtube video “What if Episode I were good?” and the following two videos in the series as ‘the truth’ whereas the actual prequels will just be rumours and misinformation. I’m going to be putting together a bullet point document summarising the changes shortly.

      I hope to do future “What if?” articles proposing alternative suggestions for games πŸ™‚

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